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CHAPTER V: Of the Law of Nature, and its Obligation. - 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 Law of Nature, and its Obligation.
The Law of Nature defined. Having prepar’d the Way for all that is to follow, I shall begin this Chapter with the Definition of the Law of Nature.1The Law of Nature is a Proposition, proposed to the Observation of, or impress’d upon, the Mind, with sufficient Clearness, by the Nature of Things, from the Will of the first Cause, which points out that possible Action of a rational Agent, which will chiefly promote the common Good, and by which only the intire Happiness of particular Persons can be obtain’d. The former Part of this Definition contains the Precept, the latter, the Sanction; and the Mind receives the Impression of both, from the Nature of Things. “Those Rewards and Punishments are sufficient, which are so great and so certain,2 as to make it evidently conduce to the intire Happiness of particular Persons,” (which the Nature of Things, both compels them to desire, and makes possible for them to obtain,) “if they continually promote the public Good, more than if they attempt any thing to the contrary.” And whereas Privations are best understood by means of their opposite Positives, Actions and Omissions contrary to this End, and the Mischiefs connected with them, seem by this Method to be both discovered and prohibited. For “Right” (or strait) “shews what is crooked, as well as what is strait.” That which takes the shortest Way from the given Term, or State of Things, to this End, is called Right, by a Metaphor taken from the Definition of a right Line, in use among Mathematicians. An Action, attaining the most desireable Effect in the quickest Manner, takes the shortest Way to this End. Therefore it is Right. And that very Comparison, by which such Action is discover’d, supposes all things so consider’d, that it is known, both what will less conduce to the End, and (with much greater Ease) what would obstruct the effecting it.
It is a true Proposition.I will now consider the Particulars of the Definition given. A Proposition] Viz. a true one, as what follows will make evident. This Word seem’d more simple and plain than the Phrase, The Dictate of right Reason, which yet comes to the same thing, when all Ambiguity in the Expression is taken away. Nor did I think it proper, to make use of the word Oration for the Genus, as Hobbes has done,3 lest any should in a Mistake imagine, that the use and knowledge of Words, or any arbitrary Signs whatsoever, were essential to a Law. The Knowledge (or Ideas form’d in the Mind) of Human Actions, of Consequences good or evil to human Nature, but, especially, of Rewards and Punishments naturally connected with such Actions, and those Ideas reduc’d into the Form of Practical Propositions, such as I have describ’d, are all that is essential to a Law. Such Ideas may be produc’d, by Observation, in the Minds of those who are born Deaf, tho’ they form no notion of the sound or force of Words; and so the Laws of Nature will become known, even to them.
Imprinted by the NatureBy Nature] It was proper, to mention the efficient Cause in this Definition, because we were not inquiring into the Definition of a Law in general, but of the Law of Nature, which Word denotes the Author or efficient Cause.
of ThingsThe Nature of Things] Does not only signify this Lower World, whereof we are a Part, but its Creator and supreme Governor, GOD. For, to our forming a true Judgment of Actions necessary to the publick Good, conspire (1.) the World without us, especially, those Men with whom we have to do, who, as Objects, excite us to think of, and consider, them; (2.) ourselves, both as parts of Mankind, and as free Causes of our own Actions; (3.) God, as the common Cause, and supreme Governor of all Things, whose Authority comes often into consideration.
It is certain, “That only true Propositions, whether speculative or practical, are imprinted on our Minds by the Nature of Things”; because a natural Action points out that only which exists, and is never the Cause of any Falshood, which proceeds wholly from a voluntary Rashness, joining or separating Notions, which Nature has not join’d or separated. If therefore the Terms are connected by Nature, a true affirmative Proposition may be form’d of them. The Terms are connected, when the different Ideas (for the most part inadequate or incomplete) of an Object are imprinted upon the Mind, by the same Object view’d in different Lights, or compar’d with different Things. It is hence easy, to form a Judgment of true negative Propositions. It is, therefore, with great justness, that these Laws or Propositions are ascrib’d to Nature, since Nature exposes to the Observation of the Mind, both the Terms of those Propositions, and the Connexion of those Terms.
on our Minds,Farther; “Rational Agents are so fram’d, that, whilst they continue in this State, they are led, by Necessity of Nature, to perceive or apprehend the Terms of these Propositions; nay, are also inclin’d, by an inward Propension, to compare them, so as to frame affirmative Propositions of those which agree, negative, of those which disagree; nay farther, so to compare two Propositions among themselves, as to draw from these, as Premises, a third in the Form of a Conclusion.” The Nature of a rational Agent exacts, that self-evident Propositions (especially, concerning the Consequences of our own Actions, relating to our own Happiness, or that of others) be form’d, such are the primary Laws of Nature; and from them be deduced other Propositions or Conclusions, which may be call’d the secondary, or less obvious, Laws of Nature.
from the Will of the first Cause,We cannot doubt of the Nature of created Beings, but that both Things external, exciting Thoughts in us, and our Mind comparing these Thoughts, are the Causes of necessary Truths.4 As to the Nature of the Creator, there will remain no doubt, but that he too is to be look’d upon as the Cause of those Truths, if we seriously consider, both what has been already said, and what we now think proper to add; which is, “That all Truth is from the first Cause of those Things, in which it is founded, and the uncorrupt Effect or Work of God, without any Tincture from the preternatural Stain of Mankind.” Therefore, if any true Proposition declares, what ought to be done, it declares so from God. Nor is it more certain, “That those natural Things are form’d by God, to produce their natural Effects, the Sun, for Instance, to enlighten the Air, and Rain to moisten the Earth”; than “That such Propositions as naturally regulate our Actions, are given to us by God for that very Purpose.” For that Regulation is the only Effect they can have, and that they do necessarily, from their own inward Nature.
with sufficient Clearness.“That Proposition is propos’d, or imprinted by the Objects, with sufficient plainness, whose Terms, and their natural Connexion, are so expos’d to the Senses and Thoughts, by obvious and common Experience, that the Mind of an adult Person, not labouring under any Impediment, if it will attend or take Notice, may easily observe it.” Such, for Example, are these Propositions; “That a Man may be kill’d, by a profuse Loss of Blood, by Suffocation, by Want of Food, &c. That Life may for some time be preserv’d by Air, Nourishment, and Cloathing: That the mutual Assistance of Men contributes much to a happy Life.”
But, if any one has a Mind to add, to these Reasons, another from the Effect, and will affirm, “That the Laws of Nature are so called, because they supply its Necessities, and are the principal Means of perfecting it,” I will not contradict him; because the same Person, and, much more, different Persons, may have different Reasons for imposing the same Name on Things.
(Justinian’s Definition of the Law of Nature, oppos’d, by Authority,§II. But, because the Law or Right (for these Words are there used in the same Sense) of Nature is defin’d in another Sense by the Civilians,5 both in the Pandects, and Institutions, Lib. I. “That which Nature has taught all Animals”;6 and they thus distinguish it from “the Law of Nations, which all Nations use, and which natural Reason establishes among all Men”:7 I think it proper, to oppose to so great an Authority, both an equal Authority, and Reason, which is of greater Authority among Philosophers. As to the First, the same Justinian, (in Instit. Lib. 2.) treating of Property, expresses himself thus. “We acquire a property in some things by the Law of Nature, which, as we are inform’d, is call’d the Law of Nations.”8 Behold, how here the Law of Nature does with him signify the same Thing with the Law of Nations, which he defines in the same manner, as to sense, that we do the Law of Nature! And Cicero also, who, as to proper Latin, will not give Way, even to the Emperor, in the third Book of his Offices, has made use of these two expressions, as signifying the same thing, “By Nature, that is, by the Law of Nations.”9 And, as part of the Law of Nature, he reckons the Precepts of Religion, which are peculiar to Man, and not common to him with other Animals.10 Hence it appears, that these antient Authors us’d the Law of Nature and of Nations in the same sense; so that it would be superfluous to prove, that modern Philosophers us’d the same way of speaking.by Reason.) The Reason, why I affirm the Laws of Nature to be proper to Man alone, is this, because they are Propositions concerning consequences depending upon the influence of actions, or Determinations of the Judgment compounding or dividing Terms, whose chief Authority depends upon this, “That they are known to proceed from God.” And I meet with nothing to convince me, “That Brutes form Propositions,” such as these especially, “and regulate their Lives by them,” much less can they know, “That they are imprinted upon them by God.”
which points out§III. I am not ignorant of what Modestinus affirms, “The Law has power to command, forbid, permit, punish,”11. to which may also be added, to reward. And yet I have mention’d none of these, in the Definition of the Law of Nature, which, nevertheless, I acknowledge to have all those powers.12 For they all seem to follow from this one, wherein their whole force consists, the pointing out of those Actions, which are most conducive to the Common Good. Philosophy, and those Notices, which are impress’d upon us by external Objects, shew, of what Kind those actions are, and what they do. These expressions, to command, &c. seem more adapted to the Style of Magistrates, when they signify their Will, than to the simple Indications afforded by Things; from which, however, the whole force of Commands, Prohibitions, Punishments, and Rewards, is easily deduc’d.
(and, by doing so,For, “after the supreme Governor of the World has declar’d plainly, that he wills the Publick Good; he plainly commands, by pointing it out, what promotes that, and, by that Command, evidently forbids contrary Actions or Omissions. And he, whose Will it is, that every Man’s particular Happiness, and peace of Conscience, should depend upon his endeavours to perform these things, and upon the publick Happiness, in which it is contain’d, hath decreed a certain Reward to such Actions, as procure the Common Good, and hath added the sanction of a Punishment to contrary Actions; which is, his Want of that part of the Publick Good, which would have fallen to his share, if he had endeavour’d to promote it.”commands, forbids, rewards, punishes, permits) The Law of Nature may be said to permit those things, which it discovers, not to be necessarily requisite to the Common Good, and yet to be consistent with it. If such things were unnecessarily restrain’d by Rulers, it is plain, that Nature would be hurt, which consists in such motion, as tends to perpetual Variety. Positive Rewards and Punishments will be considered hereafter. All these points will be better understood, after I have explained the nature and causes of the Publick Good.
that possible ActionThe following words insinuate the subject Matter of the Laws of Nature, which are such Actions as the Schoolmen call Human; those, for Instance, which we can govern by Counsel, and which are, therefore, not either Necessary, nor Impossible. For the Law of Nature, or “Reason, weighing the powers of Nature, cannot propose to us that which is impossible, as an End, nor prescribe the making use of such Means, as exceed the limits of our power”; because both would be vain, and inconsistent with our faculties. But Reason is plainly averse to vain attempts and inconsistencies.13 For, tho’ it may happen, thro’ an unforeseen concurrence of external causes, that affairs (in this Life) may succeed very prosperously with those, who have neglected to use the best means in their power to promote their own happiness: Yet, because such Effects are, with respect to us, purely contingent, and do but rarely happen, it is evident, that our Reason, or Judgment, does not advise, much less does the Law of Nature command, any such Actions. This, however, Natural Reason teaches evidently enough, “That it will much more probably promote our Happiness, that we should act for a foreseen End, and by the best Means in our power adapted to that End, than that, laying aside Counsel, we should commit our-selves to uncertain chance.” Nor does the Law of Nature promise greater Happiness, than what arises from a rational behaviour toward God and Man, beyond what can be hop’d for from a Life, whose conduct is committed to rashness and chance. The ground of this greater hope is founded upon this, “That our Reason will not hinder the accession of such good things, as may come to us from any other quarter, without our care, but will add there to all those, which it can effect or obtain from God and Men.” Beside, I would exclude from the title of Human Actions, those, which throw the whole affair upon Fortune, without the least probable cause of hoping for a good, rather than an evil Event.
(i.e. Series of Actions)The Action, here describ’d, is to be understood universally,14 not the action of one Man only, nor those of a Day; but all the human Actions of all Men, thro’ their whole Life, ought to be directed to the Common Good of all. I chose to treat expresly of the actions of Men only, because they are well known to us by daily Experience; and, if the Law of Nature leads us at all to philosophize, concerning the actions of God or Angels, it is to be deduc’d from an analogy or resemblance, founded on Human Actions.
of a (i.e. Every) Rational Agent.The words [of a Rational Agent] plac’d in the Definition, are indefinite, and are, therefore, applicable to any Man whomsoever; for Example, to the first Man, yet alone; and then the Common Good would be, whatsoever would be acceptable to God and Him. But this indefinite proposition, connecting those things which are in nature necessarily connected, amounts to, or is in sense, an Universal; i.e. after more than one Man is suppos’d, it extends to all and every one, taken jointly or severally. This I thought proper to mention, for this reason, because the most known Laws of Nature, which direct to the practice of Justice and Charity among Men, suppose them to have increas’d to some Number; and do chiefly aim at this point, to manifest to them, by what mutual actions they may make one another most happy. The Laws of Nature therefore speak, as Civil Laws usually do, to many at once. Hence the Lawyers call the Law, a common command;15 and we have an account, that Solon (if I remember right) expresly provided for it by a Law, “That no Law should be made for the case of any particular person.”16 Beside, the joint endeavours and Actions of many may effect something considerable toward the common Good; and, therefore, the truth of this Proposition, “Fidelity, Gratitude, natural Affection, or the Innocence of all or many, conduces to the Publick Good,” is more evident, than that such Actions in any single person should have the same effect.
which will chiefly promote the Common Good.§IV. “The principal, and most distinguishing, Character of the Laws of Nature, is taken from the Effect of those Actions they prescribe, which is, the Publick Good.” That it should be so, the matter it-self requires. For, since the Nature of Actions, which are the Objects of Laws, is best perceiv’d by their Effects; since these Laws, as being Propositions, and, consequently, form’d of Ideas combin’d among themselves, are distinguish’d from all Laws of different kinds, by their Objects, the inward nature of the Laws themselves must be seen in the Effects, to which they direct.
This, the greatest End of human Actions,The Effect (as the Idea thereof, preconceiv’d in the Mind, first moves a Rational Agent to intend the producing it, and afterwards limits his actions in order thereto) is called the End. All agree, that whoever acts deliberately, must (1) propose an End to himself, then (2) search out, chuse, and apply the Means, by which it may be obtain’d. “Therefore Laws, perfectly fitted to a Rational Nature, must both point out the best End, and the most suitable Means for obtaining it.” Wherefore, in the given Definition, for the End, I propose the Publick Good, (in a more extensive sense than Ulpian, who defines the Publick Good “That which conduces to the benefit of the Roman state, and consists in sacred Rites, Priests, and Magistrates”;17 for my notion of it includes the Good of all Men, and the Honour of God,) which is certainly the greatest End, which can possibly be propos’d by us: For the Means, I propose all those Actions, which are in our power, and, in the given circumstances, are most effectual to obtain that End.
is here consider’d as their Effects,But, because the words, End and Means, are of very doubtful signification, and suppose the free, the mutable, intention of a rational Agent, which can never be certainly known; and because they, consequently, present to our Minds a matter not so proper for Demonstration; I thought it fit, without changing the matter in hand, to consider it under another notion; that is, because the connexion is more conspicuous, and perfectly inseparable, between Efficient Causes, and their Effects; and continual experience and frequent observation plainly discover, what Effects will follow Causes assign’d; therefore “I have laid down in the Definition, the Publick Good as the Effect, our Actions and Powers, from which any thing of that kind is hop’d for, as the Efficient Causes.”
and Morality thereby render’d more Demonstrable.“By this means, Moral and Political Questions are converted into Terms in use among Natural Philosophers, Whether these Efficient Causes can produce this Effect, or no? And to Questions thus express’d, an Answer may be given, which is capable of Demonstration, from the formerly-observ’d efficacy of human Actions, consider’d, both by themselves, and in concurrence with other Causes, not unlike those at present suppos’d.” Altho’, while we deliberate, we may truly be called Free, and the future effects of our Actions, with respect to that Liberty, may, with great propriety, be called Contingent; yet, after we have determin’d to act, the connexion, between our Actions, and all the Effects thence depending, is necessarily and plainly natural, and, therefore, capable of Demonstration; we may observe this in Mathematical operations, which are not less free than any other human actions. Therefore, “as a long series of consequences, beyond the expectation of such as are not vers’d in such matters, concerning the mutual proportion of Lines or Angles, may be demonstrated from this, That a few Lines have been drawn according to Geometrical Rules: So, from the principles of Natural Philosophy, may be demonstrated many Effects of a Human Action, communicating a known motion to a Body in a known system of other Bodies; and, consequently, often, what will prejudice the Life of Man, the soundness, intireness, and power of beginning Motion (in the use of which consists Liberty, as it is oppos’d to external restraint) in his Members, or even the Goods which he possesseth; or what, on the contrary, will benefit any one Man, or many.” A rational inquiry into Nature hath demonstrated, (if I am not mistaken,) “That all the changes of all Bodies, even Human, which are produc’d by external Causes,” (for determinations, arising from the inward Liberty of the Will, must be excepted,)“whether they are for the better or the worse, are produc’d, according to those Theorems concerning Motion, which are investigated and demonstrated by a Geometrical Analysis.” I confess, they are but few things, tho’ of great moment, which have yet been produc’d upon this Subject: Yet a method has been shewn, of subjecting all Motions, however complicated, to a Geometrical Calculation, and of finding out all Theorems, concerning Lines, Figures, and the determinations of Motion thence arising; and, consequently, (since the whole Nature of Body is to be resolv’d into its Extension, Figure, and variously-compounded motions;) “a general Method is discovered, of reducing all the effects of Body to Demonstration.”18 I take Notice of these Things by the way, only that I might shew, “in what method we must proceed, to come at a perfect demonstraion, from the necessary connexion of the Terms, of those things which are well enough known, from common observation and continual experience, to exist in Nature, and to depend mutually on each other, as Causes and Effects,” and which others endeavour to deduce from other natural principles. Such are those Actions, by which Men usually destroy, or preserv the Lives, Liberties, and Fortunes of others.
Virtue and the only Good.§V. Upon this head, the Stoicks are to be reprehended, who affirm’d, “nothing to be Good, but Virtue; nothing Evil, but Vice.”19 For, whilst they endeavour to establish the transcendent Goodness of Virtue, and the egregious Evil of Vice, they, incautiously, intirely take away the only reason, why Virtue is Good, and Vice, Evil. For Virtue is therefore Good, (and in truth it is the greatest Good,) because it determines Human Actions to such effects, as are principal parts of the Publick Natural Good; and, consequently, tends to improve in all Men the Natural perfections, both of Mind and Body, and to promote, as much as possible, the Honour of God, by imitating the Divine Beneficence. Further, seeing one part of Universal Justice (which is Virtue it-self conspicuous among Men) consists in Innocence, that is, in restraining Murder, Theft, &c. it is manifest, “That they can give no reason of the Law prohibiting such Injuries, unless they acknowledge, that such actions, as the robbing an Innocent person of his Life or Goods, (by which Life is preserv’d,) are Evil, or hurtful to one or more, antecedently to all Laws, and, consequently, without respect to Virtue, which consists in paying obedience to Law.”
Good and Evil antecedent to Civil Laws.Whether this be denied by Hobbes, or no, I know not; for he openly allows, that there is a Damage in such actions, and that it is Evil to him who is thereby the sufferer, in these words. “In the Commonwealth, if any one hurts another, with whom he has enter’d into no Compact, he damages him, upon whom he has brought the Evil; he injures him only, who has the power of the Commonwealth.”20 Elsewhere he as expressly contends, That “Civil Laws are the Rules of Good and Evil, and that, therefore, what the Legislator hath commanded, is to be esteem’d Good; what he has forbid, Evil; and that it is seditious to say, that the knowledge of Good and Evil belongs to private persons.”21 I would willingly reconcile these passages, by distinguishing a word of doubtful Signification, and supposing, that Evil in the former passage signifies that which is hurtful to Nature; but in the latter, that which disagrees with the Laws. But I am afraid, this way of reconciling him to himself will not please him, because from this concession may be inferr’d, “That some things may be known, before the declaration of the Law, to be Evil, or hurtful, either to a single person, or to a multitude, and thence some Civil Constitutions may be prov’d Evil or hurtful to the People.” To avoid this inconvenience, he determines, “That no Definition, no Reasoning, in all Mathematicks, Natural Philosophy, or Politicks, should be acknowledg’d, unless approv’d by the Civil Powers.”22 Truly, what he denies of “Christ, that he came into the World to teach Logick,”23 that he contends belongs to the Prerogative of Monarchs and all supreme Powers. They, truly, are rais’d to the Throne, to teach Logick and other Natural Sciences. O happy times, not ours only, but even all times of all Nations! All Kings and Republicks have perpetually philosophiz’d; and the Decrees of them all have been acknowledged Axioms, however they may have contradicted, either themselves, or one another. But let him reconcile these his inconsistencies more happily himself; and, at the same time, I intreat him to remove this scruple, “How all effects (beneficial and hurtful, good and evil) of Natural Agents, and even of Men themselves, are necessary: And yet it depends upon the mutable Will of Princes, to determine, whether these same effects be Good or Evil ”? Which are two Fundamental doctrines of his, tho’ they are in direct contradiction to one another. What is more; the latter opinion is inconsistent with those things, which are necessarily and essentially requisite to Society, and acknowledged by Hobbes himself for Laws of Nature (cap. 3 de Cive) such as, the rejecting a right over all things and persons, keeping Faith in Compacts, and Gratitude.24 Certainly, if any Prince should enact general Laws contrary to these, in order to establish his State, he would do it with the same Success, as if he should decree the use of Poison, or of Air and Garments infected with the Plague, for preserving the health of his Subjects. For the force and efficacy of such methods do, with as great certainty, introduce the Evils of Discord, Murder, Robbery, and the like, among Men, as Poison or the Plague corrupts the Blood. Xerxes may lash the Hellespont,25 but it will not obey him; nor will things hurtful change their Natures, and become profitable, in obedience to the Decrees of Princes. Suppose a Law, commanding the Subjects of any State, to kill one another, without any regard to Sex, Age, or Actions by them done; to break all Compacts; to be universally ungrateful: Suppose it universally obey’d, and see, whether it would not immediately introduce a general Slaughter, (nothwithstanding any obligation of Conscience to the contrary, which he would seem to acknowledge, only to impose upon the unwary;) till at last only One surviv’d, whom now elated with the murder of the rest, no fear of a greater power (the only obligation acknowledg’d by Hobbes) would restrain from killing his Prince, whom we may, without absurdity, suppose less strong than his Subject. Let him likewise shew, “How all his Philosophy is Demonstrative, and necessarily true, when as yet it has been confirm’d by no Prince whomsoever; but on the contrary, many of his opinions (particularly that concerning Necessity, in opposition to Free-will) are condemn’d by almost all Princes professing Christianity.”
Whatever his real Sentiments may be, it is not very material; yet it is a more favourable construction to judge, “That he was either deceiv’d by the ambiguity of the words, Good and Evil, or was willing to deceive his unwary Readers”; than to believe him come to that pitch of Madness, “as to think natural Good and Evil (that is, such Actions, especially Human, as benefit or hurt the Bodies or Minds of Men, singly or collectively) are not determin’d by their own Nature, to produce their natural effects, but advantage or prejudice us, merely at the Pleasure of Princes.
The Principles of Human Actions, as naturally Good or Evil, as are their Effects.§VI. We may, therefore, suppose the following sensible Phenomena, which are confirmed by constant Experience, if not already demonstrated, are capable of being demonstrated from the Principles of Natural Philosophy, (whose business it is, to discover and demonstrate the Causes and Effects of such things;) “That Men, by a proper course of Diet, by mutual Benevolence, by permitting every one by his own labour to acquire things necessary for Life and Health, by Innocence and Beneficence, by observing Compacts, by Gratitude to our Benefactors, by a particular Affection for our Children and Kindred, both in the ascending and descending Line” (who are distinguish’d from others by that peculiar character of a Sameness of Natural Principles deriv’d from one and the same fountain;) that by such methods (I say) “Men formerly were of mutual advantage, and that, the more they pursue the like Methods, they will hereafter be of the greater advantage to one another, both with respect to the health and strength of the Body, and the Knowledge, Prudence, Joy, Tranquillity in every state, and well-grounded Hope of the Mind, even in Death it-self.” On the other Hand, “That, from actions of a contrary kind, arise Errors and grievous Anxieties of Mind; to the Body, loss of Limbs, Distempers, the inconveniencies of Hunger and Thirst, and to many Men Death it-self”; Evils, which, by using our power otherwise, might have been prevented. Wars arise from Discord, Drunkenness, breach of Faith, &c. as from their natural causes. Hence Massacres, Plundering of Goods, and Burning of Houses, arise as necessarily and naturally, as Men die in consequence of the Plague; or as the ruin and swallowing up of a City sometimes proceeds from a great Earthquake; so that both are equally natural, and equally publick Evils. In the same manner, a well-regulated Diet, mutual Concord, Fidelity and Gratitude, are as truly natural and publick Advantages, as are uncorrupted Air, or the benign influence of the Sun, which are beneficial to all. For the powers of these dispositions (tho’ they lie scatter’d among particular persons) may be jointly consider’d, and they are truly natural causes, affecting the whole body of Mankind, or a considerable part thereof: Just as the several seeds of Animals and Plants, tho’ Nature hath assign’d to each their peculiar place, wherein only they exert their powers, may, nevertheless, be consider’d jointly; and it may truly be affirm’d of them, that they are Principles and necessary Causes of Life, Increase, and innumerable other effects in Plants and Animals. For the whole collection of Effects is no less necessarily connected with the whole collection of Causes, than particular Effects are with their particular Causes.
It may, therefore, be look’d upon as certain, “That Propositions of eternal truth may be form’d concerning the Effects of external Human Actions, whether virtuous or vicious”: And, on the contrary, “That from the Effects of human Action, hurtful or beneficial to particular persons, but especially to many, it may be known, whether the internal practical Principles were advantageous or prejudicial, that is, naturally Good or Evil.”
The difficulty of calculating future effects, arises from mixture of concurrent causes.All the difficulty of foreseeing, “whether a good or ill Effect will follow from any Action suppos’d,” arises hence, “That it is generally not known, what Concurrence there will be of other causes with that.” For hence it may happen, that what at first seem’d to have a good tendency, may afterwards have a bad effect. As Mathematicians demonstrate the Genesis of Lines and Figures from natural Motion, abstractedly consider’d; several things are with ease demonstrated, concerning Human Actions and their Effects, under the same abstract and general consideration. Hence it is evident, “That the greatest perfection of Moral and Political Prudence, consists in a through Knowledge of the circumstances, concurring with Human Actions to produce their effects, or obstructing them; whose principal part is an intimate Knowledge of those particular persons, with whom we are to act in conjunction, or whom we are to oppose, as well with respect to their Understanding and practical Principles, as their peculiar turns of Affection; as also with respect to their Friends, Servants, Possessions, and assistance from the State, now Commonwealths are founded.”
A summary of the foregoing fourth and sixth sections.§VII. This is the Sum of what I have said, “That the consideration of our Powers and Actions, as Causes, and the End desir’d, as the Effect, seems the most convenient general method of resolving moral Rules into the Phaenomena, or appearances, of Nature”; which ought to be the principal scope, both of a Writer upon the Law of Nature, or of him who would live according to it. For certain Actions, and their Object, (which in this case is one or more Men,) being suppos’d, Natural Philosophy will discover, “whether the Preservation and Perfection of the Object, which is Good; and its Corruption or Damage, which is call’d Evil, will ensue.” By this means, in order to foresee what Effect will follow, we bring under our view and deliberation, all we know of the nature of our Powers, and of other Causes co-operating with us, as also of those persons, who are to be the Objects of our Action.
But the consequence of our considering and comparing, among them-selves, the various Effects, which would follow the various Actions in our power, is this, that we shall take sufficient care of these Two things,(1.) That we alwaies propose a possible End (or Effect,) and, of those which we can attain, the best: (2.) That we apply those Actions as Means, which are the most suitable and adequate Causes of the foreseen intended Effect. In these two consists the Whole of Moral and Political Prudence. The Dictates of Prudence, directing Human Actions every where to the Greatest Possible Good of all rational Agents, are the very Laws of Nature. When these procure the assent of any Man’s Under-standing, and so actually determine his Will, that they influence his Actions, and, being treasur’d up in his Memory, return upon proper occasions to determine him, they are the Habit of moral Virtue. If to these Dictates of Prudence there be any thing added, which respects the particular constitution of any State, or the Publick office and Private affairs of any Person therein, they then become Civil, Political, or Private Prudence, according as that addition requires. But, perhaps, I have already said too much upon this head in this place.
A further explanation of [Common] Good, the End or the Effect of the Law of Nature§VIII. I proceed, more fully to explain the [Common] (which also I call the Publick) Good. By these words I understand “the Aggregate or sum of all those good things, which, either we can contribute towards, or are necessary to, the Happiness of all rational Beings, consider’d as collected into one Body, each in his proper order.” For I consider God, and all Men, upon account of some resemblance in Reason, or an intelligent Nature, as represented under one Notion, which is extended to every particular by the word, All. ’Tis easy for every Man, to form an Idea of rational Being in General, and to conceive the meaning of the word, All.
Both which are above the capacity of Brutes, who can neither Abstract from Particulars, nor cast up Sums, much less perceive that Agreement in Nature, which is between God and Man. For which reason, amongst others, “They cannot regard the Common Good, and are, therefore, incapable of Virtue, and of Society with Men, which is founded in the consideration of the Common Good.”
Altho’ I affirm’d, “That the Common Good of rational Beings is immediately regarded in the Laws of our Nature,” I would not however, deny, “That they extend our care to things of inferior Nature, to things irrational and corporeal”; They oblige us, for Example, to feed Animals, sow Vegetables, and till the very Ground, as far as these Actions promote the Honour of God, and Happiness of Men; but, while we are so imploy’d, the perfection of these things is not properly, at least not ultimately, sought after; their use, and concurrence with our Actions towards the Good of rational Beings, is the thing intended.
For, in examining Nature, we observe, “That all Bodies are govern’d by God, the Supreme Rational Agent”: And, whilst we experience, that, at the command of our Judgment and Will, our Muscles and many neighbouring Bodies are moved, we see, “That our own Bodies, and, by means of them, very many others, are necessarily determin’d by Human Reason”; and thus, by the constitution of the Universe, we find the subordination of Bodies, one to another: For the Mind cannot but conceive some order, between that which determines and those things which are determined, so that what determines must be before, what is determin’d must be after, in acting. But it is our interest, to observe the order settled by Nature, and by that means, as far as lies in our power, to promote our own perfection. Whence I may justly conclude, by the way, “That he, who seeks the chief Good of rational Agents, seeks the Good and order of the whole World; and that, from the slightest observation of the natural Determinations of Motion, some notion of Order and dependence is produc’d in the Mind; which regular Dependence, as it proceeds from the judgment of a rational Mind, is properly called Government.” Wherefore, since we are perfectly conscious of such manner of proceeding within our-selves, and, by the natural assistance of our Senses, we see the like transacted without us; we may truly affirm, “That we have receiv’d the Idea of Order and Government from Nature.” So much may suffice for the word Publick or Common.
Of [Good] Natural, with respect both to the Creatour and his Creatures.§IX. By the word [Good] plac’d in the Definition, I understand, “That which by the Philosophers is usually call’d Natural Good, and, which I have already defin’d, with respect to Created Beings, as that which preserves, or renders them more perfect or happy: With respect to the Divine Nature, as being completely happy in himself, what is grateful or pleasing to him”; i.e. by Analogy or resemblance, because what things we perceive to preserve or perfect us, those we call grateful to us, that is, they leave the Mind in a state of Tranquillity and Joy. Now, though it is inconsistent with the infinite perfection of God, that he should be preserv’d or render’d more perfect; yet, because Tranquillity, Joy, or Complacency, may be conceiv’d separately from Imperfection, these may safely be ascrib’d to the Divine Majesty.
Those things which are Naturally Good and belong to Man, subdivided into advantages of the Mind,But, to return to Man, his Natural good things, or Advantages, are of two kinds,
(1) Those, which adorn and chear the Mind, the foundation of all which seems to be laid in such things as perfect the Knowledge and Judgment, to which if the Will consents, it is likewise perfect.
(2) Those, which preserve and increase the powers of the Body. For publick good things are the same with the good things of particular persons; and, from a true Idea of any Man’s Happiness, may easily be deduc’d, by Analogy, the happiness to be sought after for any Civil State, or even for all Men jointly consider’d.Body. For a Society, compos’d of particular persons, is only then happy, when each of its members, especially the principal ones, have their Minds endow’d with the natural perfections of the Understanding and Will, and their Bodies sound, and with vigor ministring to their Minds.
The Reader is to observe, “That I have called these things Naturally Good, in that sense, in which these words, as being of a more extensive signification, (and, consequently, more general and first known in the order of Nature,) are distinguish’d from things Morally Good”;Moral Good. for these are only voluntary actions conformable to some Law, especially, that of Nature. Therefore Good is not to be taken in this sense, when it is inserted in the Definition of the Law of Nature, because it is absurd, to Define any thing, by what supposes the thing Defin’d, already known. There are many things Naturally Good, that is, such as contribute somewhat to the Happiness of Man, which are not Morally Good, as being either not voluntary Actions, or not commanded by any Law: such are an enlarg’d Understanding, the ornaments of the Sciences, a tenacious Memory, strength of Body, the assistance of external Possessions, &c. On the contrary, I am of opinion, “That no action of the Will is enjoin’d or recommended by the Law of Nature, and, consequently, Morally Good, which does not, in its own nature, contribute somewhat to the Happiness of Men.” The Moral Philosopher supposes, “That it is known from Natural Philosophy or Experience, what preserves or increases the powers of the Mind, and what renders Life more vigorous and lasting; and that, above the rest, some Human Actions, which are distinguish’d by the name of Virtues, contribute much to these effects, and that all these Actions are very consistent with one another.” The Mind of Man, conscious of its power to perform such Actions, observing these things, in particular instances or examples belonging to it-self or some other known person, concludes, “That such kind of Actions will make all Men happier, or, at least, consist with the happiness of all Men.” Such general Conclusions are Laws of Nature. So, from the observ’d resemblance between Human Bodies, and from the experienc’d advantage of Meats and Drinks, of Sleep and Exercises, and of the whole Materia medica, are form’d general Aphorisms, with relation to Diet and Medicine, in use among all Nations; tho’ many medicinal precepts, according to the variety of Soils and Climates, may vary, and indeed are various, as the Civil Laws of different States. When, afterwards we act in pursuance of these Conclusions, and, upon comparison, find our actions conformable to them; beside the previously known appellation of natural Goodness, there accrues to these actions this, that they are morally Good, from their conformity with the Laws of Nature already enacted.
I will add nothing here, concerning the word [possible], which I inserted, because the utmost bounds of Obligation to action, never exceed the limits of the Faculty oblig’d. Altho’ the words ‘Publick Good ’ have a great sound, no man is oblig’d to promote it beyond his ability.
The word [chiefly] shews, that the Affirmative Laws of Nature, or those enjoining Action, are Comparative Dictates of Reason, and prescribe the best action, we can either think or say, is in the given circumstances in our power; alwaies the Best.26 It is, however, to be observ’d, That what is equal to the Best, may justly be called the Best, and, when we can perceive no material difference, we may act either way. In such cases, the Law of Nature has left us at Liberty.
Now I have here describ’d Affirmative Laws only, because Negative Laws may easily be thence deduced; and Nature, which consists wholly in things Positive, seems to imprint immediately these only.
The last words, concerning [the necessity of promoting the Common Good, in order to intire private happiness,] explain’d.§X. The last words of our Definition implied, “That the Law of Nature alwaies declares those actions only, which tend to promote the Publick Good, sufficient to procure the intire and chief Happiness of particular agents”; and they express “The Sanction of these Laws, which is discover’d from the happiness annex’d to their observance, and the misery consequent upon their violation.” I affirm’d, “That the intire and chief happiness possible was aim’d at in them,” because all men naturally and necessarily desire, not any part only thereof, but the whole which seems possible to them, according to the will of the First Cause. And this desire is highly rational, and evidently more conducing to our perfection, than the desire of any less Good. To this it is owing, (which is of great importance with respect to Universal Justice,) that no proposition is to be look’d upon as a Law of Nature, which declares what sort of actions can procure bodily Pleasure, Wealth, Honours, or any other portion of Happiness, for a time, but those only, which certainly foreshew, by what methods, we may procure the greatest quantity of all good things, especially the Greatest, which may render our Minds perpetually Happy. It is, for this reason, necessary, “That we should deliberate and determine with our-selves, not with respect to any small parts of our Life, (for example, what we ought to do to-day, in order to spend this day happily,) but with respect to our whole life to come, what will conduce alwaies, and in all circumstances, to our perpetual Happiness.” Because in the whole series of actions, to be perform’d thro’ the whole course of our future life, is contain’d, as in its cause, that whole Happiness, which is or will be in our power, which we naturally desire. “Almost all the Crimes of Wicked Men arise hence, that they regard only Corporeal and Immediate Pleasures, and regulate their actions accordingly, not at all solicitous about those, which respect the Mind, or which are not to happen, till after a long series of Actions.”
These words [the happiness of particular agents, &c.] insinuate, “That some part of those good things, which are, by the will of the First Cause, as it were laid up at the Creation for the Common Happiness,27 is by the same act allow’d and given to particular persons in the ordinary preservation of the World, and, therefore, that the measure of each one’s share may be adjusted by Human Reason, in that proportion, which particular persons bear to the whole collective Body of rational Agents.” As the Heart, by the same Circulation of the mass of Blood, preserves the Life of the whole Animal, and distributes a justly-proportioned nourishment to every Member. Only there is this difference, “That, by the Members of the Body, their proportion is imbib’d without Reason: But, in Men, the judgment of Reason, considering each man’s proportion, claims to itself that share of good things, which is consistent with the welfare of the Whole.”
§XI. Before I come to consider, “What kinds of actions are necessary to the Publick Good, or consistent with it,” I thought it necessary to shew these Two things,
The Law of Nature has the whole force of a proper Law.(1.) That, in this our Definition, are contain’d (at least, by an easy consequence, may be thence deduced) all those things, which are requisite to the general nature of a Law;
(2.) Also those things, which are peculiar to the Law of Nature.
The obligation of a Law arises from the Legislator’s annexing Rewards and Punishments to it.As to the First, that Passage of Modestinus, before cited out of the Digests, comes pertinently into consideration; “The force of a Law is to command, forbid, permit, punish,”28 to which also may be added, in some Laws, to confer rewards: In these words are certainly contain’d, what some express by the Metaphorical words of Obliging and creating a Duty. Obligation is defin’d by Justinian “That bond of the Law, by which we are tied with the necessity of paying any thing, according to the Laws of that State to which we belong.”29 Where it is to be observ’d, “That he respects the Laws of his own State only, that of Rome; whereas Papinian, with much greater reason, acknowledges a Natural Obligation (distinct from the Civil,) which is supported by the bond of Equity only”:30 As also, “That it breeds obscurity, that he uses Metaphorical words, which are generally of doubtful meaning.” For those words, bond and tied, are not more easily understood, than Obligation, which is to be defin’d. But, if we consider the matter attentively, this is plainly insinuated, “That Punishments, and also Immunities and Privileges, are annex’d to the Laws, by the authority enacting them; and that Men, partly from the prospect of Good arising from obedience, partly from the fear of Evil from disobedience, are determined, or at least in some measure moved, to act as the Laws prescribe.” For no other necessity determines the mind of Men to act, than that of shunning apparent Evil, and of obtaining apparent Good. All (that I know of) acknowledge this Necessity, which is consistent with the freest power of inquiring into the goodness of things, to be essential to Human Nature. Therefore the whole force of Obligation is this, That the Legislator has annex’d to the observance of his Laws, Good; to the transgression, Evil; and those Natural, in prospect whereof men are moved to perform actions, rather agreeing than disagreeing with the Laws.
The Greatest Good, and Evil, connected with our Actions observing, or violating the Law of Nature.The good Things, connected with the observance of the Laws of Nature, are the very same, which compose mens chief happiness, and, therefore, they are evidently the Greatest: Those Evils also, which are the consequence of a state in perpetual opposition to those Laws, are those, which produce the greatest Misery. The connexion of these with Human Actions, is Natural and Necessary, that is, does not wholly depend upon the pleasure of sovereign Powers; (tho’ in every Civil State some part of these Rewards and Punishments are dispensed according to the will of the Governors;) but, if there were no Civil Government, they would partly follow from the nature of the actions, and partly be necessarily added by private persons: And, now that Civil Government is every where set up, the well-known necessity of preserving that Nature, which is common to all Political societies, every where determines Rulers to exact Punishments and confer Rewards, tho’ with some diversity in different times and places.
This Connexion is either Immediate or Mediate.§XII. But, because this is the chief debate in this controversy, I must shew, more accurately, “The Connexion between all the actions of every particular person, directed (as far as may be) thro’ the whole course of Life, to promote the Publick Good, and the greatest possible happiness and perfection of Each.” And it is twofold, (1.) Immediate, (2.) Mediate, upon account of Good procur’d, by such actions, from Men, nay, from God himself.
1. Immediate Happiness consisting in the due exercise of all our Faculties about the Common Good.I intend to treat first of the former, because it is a reward of Virtue, inseparable from the very action, and the most easily demonstrable, as being present, not liable to uncertain chances of Futurity, nor intangled in that multiplicity of Causes, on which Future Rewards depend. The immediate connexion, between every man’s greatest happiness of Mind, that is in his power; and the actions, which he performs to promote most effectually the common Good of God and Men, consists in this; “That these are the very actions, in the exercise and inward consciousness whereof, every man’s Happiness (as far as it is in his own power) consists.” The same actions consider’d, “As distinguish’d, from all others of a different kind, by their Objects and most extensive external Effect,” are call’d Actions promoting the Publick Good: But, consider’d, “As the exercise of the Agent’s greatest powers, or as his greatest perfections, producing Tranquillity and the greatest Joy to him from a consciousness of them,” are called the greatest Happiness he can procure to himself. After the same manner, as we perceive a connexion, between the Health and unimpair’d Powers of the Body, and its Actions; both Natural (relating to nourishment and generation,) and Animal.
This evinced from some Observations concerning (1.) the Perfection of the Mind in General,I suppose what follows in this Paragraph, known from the study of Nature, or learn’d by Experience, (1.) in General, “That it conduces to the natural perfection of the Mind of Man, that his Faculties, of Understanding and Will, be conversant about Objects of all kinds, especially, about God and Men.” For they have a nature resembling, or analogous to, the Mind of every Man, and, so far, capable of being known from our own Actions, of which we cannot but be conscious; and, beside, most of their actions very nearly affect our-selves; and they (as acting according to right Reason) may be mov’d by our Actions, to concur with us in promoting our Happiness.
(2) the perfection of the Understanding in particular, and(2.) In Particular, that there are requir’d to the perfection of the Understanding (1.) “That it abstract Universal Ideas from particulars, and compare them with others, and observe, that their necessary Attributes belong to other individuals we meet with”; for Example, that, from a Knowledge of it-self, abstracting what is peculiar, it may learn the Essential Properties of the Rational, or Animal, &c. Nature; and, among other things, observe, in all, some endeavours to their own preservation and perfection. (2.) “That it search into the productive and preserving Causes of things, in some measure, dependent upon our power.”(3.) “That it form like Judgments in like cases, and alwaies agree with itself, after once it has form’d a right Judgment.” (4) “That it deduce, not speculative Propositions only, but practical ones also, from known Principles.” (5.) That it follow the order of Nature, as occasion requires, some times in the Analytick, sometimes in the Synthetick method.
To this head31 is to be reduc’d that known Axiom, That the perfection of a rational Agent requires, that he should resolve upon the End before theMeans: Or, that he should consider, as throughly as he can, the Effect propos’d, before he makes use of Means to produce it. And that, therefore, he should first propose to himself the End of his whole future Life, before he can reasonably enter upon Actions; the influence whereof, as of Means or Causes, may affect his whole Life, and render it more or less happy. We shall easily perceive the use of this observation, in what follows, where we shall see, “That all and every one of our actions may increase the whole of our Happiness, nay, that they must necessarily, either improve or diminish it; and that Reason enjoins a Uniform direction of all our future actions to this End.”
Nay, the Synthetick method of considering the intire trayn of our voluntary Actions, comes to the same thing. For, if voluntary Action be consider’d in General, without respect to this or that particular case, “Its Object and Effect is Good, even the most diffusively extensive, whether acceptable to the Doer, or to any others whomsoever.” The other Property of Voluntary Action in General, is, “The Avoiding all manner of Evil, whether it be Evil to one, or to many, whether it thwart our own Good, or that of others.” Our Acts of the Will, whether Chusing, or Refusing, according to the degree of Good or Evil, and other circumstances, are call’d by the names of several Passions, on the one hand, of Love, Desire, Hope, Joy; on the other, of Hatred, Fear, Aversion, Grief. At length, we proceed “To the consideration, of particular actions, both those, which may be perform’d at present, and those, which will probably be exerted hereafter; and, of that Order among those actions, by the assistance whereof arises (as it were the Sum of a Geometrical Progression) the greatest Sum of good things, which can be done, or enjoy’d, thro’ the whole course of Life.” This is call’d every Man’s Happiness, or chief Good.
Of the Will.I judge it requisite to the natural perfection of the Human Will, “That it follow the most perfect Reason, both in its calmer resolutions, which are simply call’d Desires and Aversions; and in those more vehement ones, which usually go under the name of Passions.”
Hence we may perceive, “That Actions, contrary to these, are Imperfections and Diseases of the Mind, as Lameness, or Paralytick and Convulsive Motions are Symptoms of Diseases of the Body.” Such are the Assents given to contradictory Propositions, because it is certain, that one member of a Contradiction must be false: Unlike Judgments in like Cases, &c.
The same prov’d from hence, that, “Happiness consisting in the vigorous employment of our Faculties on their noblest Objects”; God and Man, whose Common Good we pursue, are such.§XIII. I have no inclination, very curiously to inquire, “Whether the Happiness of Man be an Aggregate of the most vigorous Actions, which can proceed from our Faculties; or rather a most grateful Sense of them, join’d with Tranquillity and Joy, which by some is call’d Pleasure.” These are inseparably connected, and both necessary to Happiness. This I will affirm, that we have nothing more in our power, towards making ourselves happy, than Actions: And that Actions are incapable of any other Augmentation, than what is to be perceiv’d in their own inward Vigour, and the natural excellency of the Object or Effect. Therefore, seeing the Common Good of God and Man is the greatest and most excellent Object we can imploy ourselves about; (for the Happiness of every one contains his Perfection, and the Common Good unites the Happiness of all;) our most vigorous Actions respecting that Object, and the Complacency arising from the consciousness of them, will, beyond any thing in our power, render us the most Happy. Most of the wiser Philosophers placed, both the Happiness and Virtue of the Human Mind, in Action, or in the right use of both its Faculties, which Plutarch has compriz’d in a few Words, “Happiness consists in right reasonings ending in a steady disposition of Mind.”32 Yet all do not sufficiently explain, “about what object and effect all these Actions conducing to Happiness, are immediately and adequately to be imploy’d.” For, to assign Happiness, as that Object or that End, is not satisfactory. For, since Happiness itself is a certain Aggregate, whose parts we are continually enjoying, and itself is confess’d to consist in Action; to say, We act for Happiness, is to say no more than that, We act, that we may act. When we say that, the Object and Effect of those our Actions which render us happy, are the Honour and Glory of God, we say, indeed, something; but, instead of the whole, we express part only, of the Object about which They are conversant, who live well and happily. It may indeed be affirm’d, “That the Knowledge of our-selves and others, and also Charity and Justice towards Men, may be deduced from the Study of God’s Glory.” But the Knowledge and Love of our-selves and other Men include a natural Perfection, (in possession whereof some part of Human Happiness consists,) essential and proper to themselves, which we can come to the Knowledge of, without deducing it from God’s Honour. Nay, we seem first to know and love Man, before the Mind raises it-self to the knowledge and love of God, whose Being, and amiable Goodness are discovered from his Works, and chiefly from Man. Be it, therefore, concluded, “That God and Men are the immediate and intire Object, what is grateful and good to Them is the Effect, of those Actions, which are principally conducive to our Happiness.” Certainly, there cannot be a greater Object of Beatifick Actions, than what comprizes all Things and their mutual Relation to one another, nor can that Object be consider’d under a notion more General, Perfect and Pleasant, than that by which it is represented in these Words, the COMMON GOOD. For, beside that Good is as extensive as Being, and so takes in all Individuals, especially Rational; there is this further consideration, that it does not only respect the internal and essential Perfections of things, but all those Ornaments, which can afterwards accrue to them, whether consider’d singly in themselves, or in whatever Relation: And beside; Beings are consider’d only as they are capable of Doing or Receiving Good, when voluntary Actions, relating to them, are directed by Laws: Hence it is, that the infinite Extent of such an Object, calls forth, exercises and suffices, the whole force of the most capacious Faculties, and delights the same with perpetual Pleasure, (for nothing can be pleasanter than Happiness.) Surely he is stupid, whom the Sight, even of Trees and Herbs flourishing in Spring and Summer, does not much more delight, than when Winter has carried off their Bloom and Verdure. But he has intirely divested himself of Human Nature, who, fore seeing in his mind the greatest Happiness which would arise from the observance of the best Laws, is not greatly delighted with the prospect and hope thereof. It is looked upon as a Fault in the Eye, if a Person in the Jaundice sees every thing ting’d with his own Colour only, or if nothing but a Man’s own Image were always presented to his Sight; much more is it an Imperfection and unhappiness of the Mind, to imploy its thoughts upon the Preservation of One only Body united to it-self, and to neglect all others.
The Pleasures of Beneficence further shewn.§XIV. However it is certain, “That Nature has furnish’d almost all Men of sound Mind and Body with such Powers, that, without any detriment to themselves, they may do many things of great advantage to others, which would be of little or no use to themselves”; such as, “To counsel others in the preservation of their Life or Health, to shew the way to him that knows it not, &c.”33 If such Powers are not exercised upon proper occasions, they are vain, and a perpetual reproach to their owner; like an uncultivated field, and seed spoil’d thro’ neglect, which, sown, would have commended and rewarded the Husbandman’s care and pains. For to act (which we certainly do, when we serve others) contributes more to our Health and Pleasure, than to be wholly idle; for, by Exercise, we recollect what we can do, which is a Pleasure to the Able; we preserve, and often augment, our Faculties; and strengthen those Habits, which render us expert in Acting: Without Acting, both the Habits would be lost, and the Faculties themselves grow languid.
It is evident, “That no Action relating to others can be consistent with those necessary and right Actions conducing to our own Good, unless the Practical Dictates of Reason, by which we are determin’d to that Action, be plainly conformable to those, by which we are directed in pursuit of our own Happiness, that is, unless they enjoin us to desire such things to them as to our-selves.” For we must of necessity desire like things, to things which are necessarily judg’d alike, i.e. of equal importance to the Whole; unless the Understanding judges Falsly or Inconsistently, or the Will resist its Judgment; either of which destroys that Internal Peace, that is necessary to Happiness. Hence we desire to others, equally Innocent or Useful, equally Free or Bound, &c. like Advantages as to our-selves. And such Judgments are so essential to the Understanding, that whoever acts accordingly, acts agreeably to his Intellectual Nature. And what is agreeable to Nature, gives it Pleasure. This hinders not, but that from Generation,34 in Families, and from Compacts, in Civil States, may arise an Inequality, or Superiority of some over others.
Further; because it is very agreeable to the Mind of Man, to succeed as much as possible, in what he labours to obtain, and vain Endeavours are extremely disagreeable; therefore, He will be much more happy, in bestowing his pains in benefiting, than in endeavouring to hurt, Many. For most Men will very willingly accept of, and second, our Benevolent Endeavours, who, if they should perceive us endeavouring to hurt them, would vigorously oppose us; so that attempts of that kind would generally be in vain.
Those Enjoyments, which are necessary to the preservation of Life, are therefore more distinctly known, and desir’d, by all, because necessary Causes are naturally connected with their Effects, and can only be deduced from them: And their deduction and application to their Effects, is very agreeable to the Mind of Man, which is always in pursuit of the greatest Certainty.
Further; greater Knowledge, and Sagacity, and Industry, are requir’d to preserve and perfect Human Nature, for Example, than to destroy and corrupt it; which may be easily effected by mere Neglect or Ignorance, and is often effected by the Strength of very weak Men, or perhaps of some other most despicable Animal. But the prosecution of the Publick Good (which contains every Good of every Man, and consequently is the greatest) requires the greatest Wisdom; and the least Folly may in some measure lessen, and disturb it. But I suppose Wisdom to be much more natural, than Folly, to any Rational Nature. Our Volitions, therefore, and external Endeavours to promote the Publick Good, must needs be naturally more perfect, grateful and agreeable to that same Rational Nature; unless, perhaps, some Error of the Judgment, or Habit arising from Error, and consequently Evil, have been introduc’d into the Mind; which may make what is hurtful to Nature, seem acceptable to it, as too much Drink appears to one in a Dropsy, or a Fever. For it is certain, “That the inward and natural perfection of the Will, or of the Man, consists in Willing what the Wisest Understanding (most perfectly comprehending the most and the best of things) shall have most truly determin’d, to be most highly beneficial to the most and best of Beings.” Consent and Harmony between the actions of the same Man, (one of which, (the Act of the Understanding,) is acknowledg’d to be right and perfective of Nature;) are better proofs of a right disposition of Mind, than their Disagreement, by which a Person is at variance with, and opposes, himself: Therefore, where the Understanding is suppos’d to act most perfectly, (which is, when it considers, and puts together, the most and best Objects, in such a manner, that thence, in Idea, arises the best state and order of the Universe, wherein all, Rational Beings especially, enjoy the happiest and most convenient Peace and Agreement;) there a Will perfectly right must of necessity approve such a Judgment. And, consequently, since it is the Business of both Faculties, to determine our Actions, whether Immanent or Transient,35 when they are dispos’d as above, (i.e. are Right) they must determine us to do as much Good, and to as many, as we can. That the Care of the Common Good, as of the greatest End, implies actions of this sort (i.e. Beneficent and Consistent,) is too evident to need proof: As also, that the Internal Perfections of our Mind require us to employ all our Faculties, in their natural and proper order, in an active and vigorous pursuit of Good; of the Good of the Noblest Beings, with whom we are concerned; of the Greatest Good of all those Beings.
These Reasons confirm’d by Experience.§XV. This Reason, by which we have prov’d the Happiness of the Will to consist in the most extensive Benevolence, is greatly confirm’d by Experience, which gives us vast Pleasure in the acts of Love, Hope and Joy, whether employ’d about our own Good, or that of others. These Affections are Essential Ingredients of Happiness; they bring Pleasure along with them, and we find them continually mov’d by the Happiness of others. He, therefore, robs Man of great part of his Happiness, who deprives him of that most pleasant affection of Love and Benevolence towards others, and of that Joy, which arises from their Happiness. Our own Advantages can afford but small matter of Joy; the Subject will be exceedingly inlarged, if we are delighted with the Happiness of every other person. For This to That will bear the same Proportion, which the Infinite Happiness of God and of all Mankind has to the scanty imaginary Happiness, with which the Goods of Fortune can supply one Man, and him too, Envious and Malevolent. For, certainly, no virtue can adorn his Mind, who has divested himself of all Benevolent Affections toward Mankind. Nay, Hatred and Envy, which fill the Mind of him who regards his own Good only, are necessarily accompanied with Trouble and Sadness, Fear and a Solitary State, which are evidently inconsistent with a Happy Life. If we examine our Faculties separately, we shall perceive, after we have arriv’d at Man’s Estate, that they grow, as it were, Prolific, and too great, to be confin’d and exercised about ourselves only. The Understanding has a strong Natural Propension, to make itself Master of those things, which may be useful to others as well as to ourselves. Hence all the Sciences, which have been found out by great application of Mind, and made Publick for the Common Benefit, have taken their rise. The pleasanter Affections of the Will (which are conversant about Good) such as Love, Desire and Joy, in the rational use whereof consists our chief Happiness, are seldom found in a Timon, a Man-hater.36 ’Tis certain, they can neither be frequent, nor afford much Pleasure, unless we are diligent in our endeavors after the Good of many, Common Reason enjoins us to exert all our Faculties in pursuit of the Publick Good, as the most effectual method of obtaining our own Happiness. When we have added to the Common Stock by our greatest Industry, we may take out our own share with Innocence, and enjoy it with Pleasure.
Private Good cannot be the greatest End prescrib’d by Reason.§XVI. Because much of what I have to say concerning Morality, depends upon what I am now laying down, I will add more to the same purpose. Since it is certain, from the Nature of the Will and of voluntary Action, that the effecting the Greatest Good is the Greatest End prescrib’d by Reason; That Good must either be the greatest Common Good (wherein I include whatever is consistent with it,) or the greatest Private Good, which every Man can desire or propose to himself as Possible, and to which he directs all his Actions. For the Good of any particular Family or Commonwealth, is either not yet suppos’d to be consider’d; or, if it be consider’d, it is press’d with almost the same Consequences with the prosecution of the Private Good of any particular person.
Reason will not suffer, that the greatest Private Good should be propos’d as the ultimate End. For, since that Action is certainly Good, which will lead directly, or the shortest way, to that End, which is truly ultimate; supposing different ultimate Ends, whose Causes are opposite, Actions truly Good will be in mutual opposition to one another, which is impossible. For Example; if right Reason instructs Titius, that his greatest Happiness, which he is to pursue as his ultimate End, consists in the enjoyment of a plenary Property in the Possessions, and an absolute Dominion over the Persons, of Seius and Sempronius, and of all others: Right Reason cannot dictate to Seius and Sempronius, that their Happiness, the object of their pursuits, consists in the enjoyment of plenary Property in the Possessions, and Dominion over the Person, of Titius, and of all others. For these contain a manifest Contradiction; and, there-fore, one only of these Dictates can be suppos’d true. But, since there is no, Cause, why the Happiness of one of these should be his ultimate End, rather than the Happiness of another should likewise be his ultimate End; we may conclude, that Reason dictates to neither, that he should propose to himself his own Happiness only, as his greatest End, but to every one, rather his own in conjunction with the Happiness of others; and this is that Common Good, which we contend is to be sought after. For that only is that one End, which is consistent with, and most promotes, the greatest possible Happiness of every particular person. In that End, alone, can agree, both natural Instinct, regarding its own, and Reason, respecting the Common Good.
It is, certainly, essential to the perfection of Practical Reason, or of Prudence, (in what subject soever it be seated,) “That to all, who are to be guided by right Reason, one only End be propos’d, as a Common Standard of Good and Evil to all”; or, “That all Rational Agents should intend one and the same Effect”; whose essential parts and causes, whether they contribute to its Existence, Preservation, or Perfection, are called Good; and those which hinder its Existence, &c. Evil. Otherwise, the Terms, Good and Evil, will be uncertain, and altogether Equivocal, signifying differently, when they are made use of by different persons; and whatever is called Good by one, because it answers his particular purposes, That all others will call Evil, because it is not subservient to their desires; which is inconsistent with the design of Speech, which is the communication of Knowledge. But if these words be applied to signify those things, which are of common benefit to Mankind, they have a determin’d meaning of great advantage to all.
I add further; if any one would regard his own Good only, and endeavour to force all Rational Agents to carry on that only, as the chief end they ought to pursue, he would be able to effect nothing, but, perhaps, draw down his own destruction upon himself. For it is evidently impossible, “That all, both Things and Persons, should be order’d according to the Wills of all particular persons willing things contrary.” The effect of every volition upon things external, is some determination of Local Motion; as is evident in the taking of Nourishment, Cloathing, Attendants, &c. But contrary determinations of the Motions of Natural Bodies mutually destroy one another. For, if any Body were at the same time mov’d toward opposite points, it must of necessity be in different places at the same time. But, if it is impossible for every particular Person, to subject all Persons and Things to himself, that Reason, which proposes this end to every one, which can happen to one only, would, oftener than a Million of times, propose an impossibility, and, once only, what was possible; and, therefore, any one may easily calculate, whether that Reason were Right or Erroneous. Others have both their Natural Powers, and Innocent Appetites, which, whether we will or no, they will obey; they have Reason also, which, directing them to pursue greater things than the pleasure of any one Man, they will by all means follow; and Strength, to defend themselves with ease from the overbearing of one or a few; so that he must needs be a Mad-man, not a Reasonable Creature, who could not foresee these consequences, but would attempt, by force of arms, to assert to himself that prodigious Right, which Mr. Hobbes maintains every Man has over every Thing and Person. He himself defines “Right” to be “a Faculty of acting according to right Reason. ”37 Now I should call that Practical Reason only, Right, which directs us to endeavour after things possible only, and not ingage us in the fruitless, if not destructive, attempt of gaining an Universal Dominion over all Things and Persons. See his Chap. 1. §. 10, 12.38On the contrary, when any one serves the Publick, he never loses his labour; his Power, though it perhaps, immediately, reach but one only, is often, in its consequences, useful to many; and, sometimes, when we expected no other fruit of our Beneficence, than that Joy which arises in our minds from the prosperity of others, brings ourselves home a plentiful Harvest.
Benevolence to all Rational Beings is necessarily connected with our own most perfect Estate.Further; to study, and endeavour after the Common Good of all Rational Beings, superadds to the attempts of an Innocent Self-love, many noble Actions in favour of Objects like our-selves, and thereby begets and compleats a Habit of Love towards Mankind, of which Philanthropy the Love of our-selves is but a finall Portion. I suppose every one seeks his own Good, and that to act in pursuit thereof, adds to the perfection of his Nature. Therefore, to act in like manner with respect to others, (among whom is God by far more excellent than himself,) will add a perfection of the same nature with that, which consists in acting in pursuit of one’s own Good; namely, a Joy arising from the Harmony and Agreement of our Actions. For it is more pleasing to the Mind of Man, to observe agreement in it-self and its own actions, than in Musical Notes and Geometrical Figures. As ’tis a Perfection of the Human Mind, to form like Judgments, so is it, to entertain like Affections, concerning like Things. To have contrary Judgments of like Things, implies a Contradiction, and is a kind of Madness, and, in Speculation, is shunn’d as a Disease of the Mind. In Practice, it argues as great an imperfection, and is a direct contradiction, in cases perfectly alike to have different Judgments, and different Volitions, according as my-self or another is concern’d. Nay, since every one’s Nature, as always intimately present, is fully known to himself; since, from thence, the Nature of other Men is not less known, as to those essential and general things, in which all agree, and in which, both our own Right, and that of others to the means necessary to the preservation of Life, is founded; it follows, “That he, who, with respect to a like Right, determines otherwise in another man’s case than in his own, contradicts himself in a most known matter, which lies perpetually before him.” And such a Contradiction, above all others, greatly hurts the Soundness, Peace, and Contentment, of the Mind in its Actions; as Uniformity in these Matters produces the greatest Tranquillity.
The Common Good, the only End, in which Mens equal Claims to Happiness can unite.§XVII. To this Head it belongs, “That whoever has judg’d any Actions necessary to his own Happiness, cannot, with Reason, but consent, that any other should judge, in like manner, the same Actions necessary to his Happiness, and, in pursuance of that Judgment, put them in execution.” Therefore, if any one takes an exact survey of what is contain’d in those practical Propositions, which determine every Man to endeavour his own preservation, he will perceive something that dictates Self-preservation to others as well as himself, and that will hinder him from opposing any others in the same pursuit. For, in this Proposition, “It is lawful for Human Nature (in Hobbes) to take those things which will preserve, and perfect its Faculties,” is included, as Antecedent in Nature, this indefinite Proposition, (which, by the necessary relation of Identity in the Terms, becomes Universal, and, therefore, holds equally true in all cases;) “It is lawful for Human Nature (in any person) to take, or to do, those things, which will preserve and perfect its Faculties.” Let Hobbes tell me, what the addition of a proper name does, toward making the former Proposition a more evident Dictate of Reason, that is, a Law of Nature, than the latter, which affirms the same with respect to every one? But, if he assert, “That every one thence acquires a Right to act at pleasure,” (as he contends Chap. 1. §. 10.) because I have already shewn the Absurdities thence arising,39 I think it sufficient to make this reply, “That the application of such a general Law to the Nature of any particular person (Hobbes for instance) can neither immediately, nor by good consequence, contradict a like application of it to any other person: Nor can any one’s Right or Liberty, allow’d by any Law, extend so far, as to make it lawful to oppose those things, which the same Law commands to be done by others.” Nay, without doubt, any person’s delighting in a good Law, and inclination to Uniformity in Action, and Reverence to the Law-giver, will influence him to assist others in observing the same Law, as far as he can without any prejudice to himself; the effect of which will be, “That every one will promote the Common Good, who, with due deliberation, considers the Principles enjoining Self-preservation.”
The following Reasoning, in the form of a Syllogism, will finish this Argument, and prepare the way to what follows relating to the Mediate, or more remote, Effects of Benevolent Actions. “Those Actions of ours, which make us perfectly conscious, That we have, to our power, contributed to the Happiness, both of our-selves and others, do affect us with the most pleasing Joy, and, therefore, render us happy. Actions promoting the Publick Good effect this, Therefore, &c.” The Major is taken from the Definition of our Happiness (as far as it is in our own power;) and, therefore, needs no Proof. The Minor is very easily prov’d, by considering, that Human Nature is such, that it cannot but be perfectly conscious of its own deliberate Actions; and we alwaies suppose every Wise person, studious of the Common Good, to act in such a deliberate manner. But he cannot neglect his own Happiness, who wisely endeavours to profit that Whole, of which he himself is a Part. His care of the End will cause him to preserve and increase all his own Powers and Perfections, because they are the only Means, by which he can attain that End. Nor can any thing more effectually procure him the favour and concurrence of God, of Men, and of all the most operative Causes, in his endeavours to promote his own Happiness jointly with that of others. For what can more effectually procure him the assistance, both of God and Men, than such sincere Affections and Endeavours of doing things acceptable to all? Certainly, since there is nothing greater in Human Faculties, nothing greater can be expected from Man, by God or Men. Lastly, among the Rewards, immediately connected by Nature with our Endeavours to promote the Publick Good, is to be reckon’d that manifold Pleasure, which arises from the exercise of all those Powers and Inclinations, which I have shewn at large to be implanted in Human Nature, and to be chiefly fitted for this very purpose, in the Chapter concerning Human Nature, whither I refer the Reader.40
2. The Mediate connexion of Happiness with acts of Universal Benevolence, is upon account of Advantages procured by such Actions from God and Men.§XVIII. Let us proceed to consider the good Effects, we may, with certainty, expect from God, and, with greater probability, hope to obtain from Men, by a continual course of Universal Benevolence, than by arrogating to our-selves all things by Fraud or Force. We shall be able, more distinctly, to foresee the consequence, if the whole state of Life be, in both cases, compar’d, than if a few Actions only; and to those who deliberate upon future Actions, of which they must of necessity chuse one, ’tis sufficient to shew, when Demonstration cannot be had on either side of the Question, that on this lies the more probable expectation of the greater Good. Upon this account it was, that Seneca long ago complain’d, and not without reason, “That Men, tho’ they deliberated concerning parts of their Life, did not deliberate concerning” (the uniform conduct of) “the whole.”41The Good or Bad Actions of Men will probably gain the Favour or Hatred of other Men; If they did this, they could not but see most evidently, “That the Man, who, disregarding the Rights of God and all other Men, alwaies arrogated all things to himself, and made himself, alone, the only End of all his Actions, must be hateful, both to God and all Men, and must needs pull down Destruction upon himself.” On the contrary, “That He, who, by Love and Obedience to God, by Innocence and Benevolence towards all Men, sought his own Happiness, in consistence with that of others, and in dependence upon their Concurrence, acts more advisedly, and may very justly hope for better success.” Altho’ the judgment we make of the future Actions of other Men, whose Favour we endeavour to procure, be probable only, yet, because it has the greatest Evidence we can obtain about such Future Contingencies; and, because the necessity of affairs requires, that the Mind, taking a Prospect of the future Actions of Men, should not remain in a state of perfect Indifference, but must incline to believe, that rather such Actions shall come to pass than others; hence it is, that it is more reasonable, to do that, which will more probably turn to our increase of Happiness; than either, by doing nothing, neglect all opportunities of procuring to our-selves the assistance of Men, or, by attempting Men by Force or Fraud, commit our Hopes to the uncertain Chance of War. For, among Future Contingencies, some are much more probable than others; and the Hope of Those is of much greater Value than that of These. And Reason, supported by Experience, knows how to ascertain the Difference between the values of this and that Hope, and reduce it to an exact Mathematical Calculation, (which Huygens has made evident in his reasonings upon that subject in his Treatise of the chances of the Dice.42 ) Therefore the same right Reason will command us, where greater Certainty cannot be obtained, to chuse that way, which, upon account of the Assistance of other Men, most probably leads to Happiness.
Hence we may conclude, “If we cannot procure the external Necessaries and Conveniences of Life, by deserving as well as we can at the hands of all; that, then, those Advantages are to be reckon’d among those things, which are not in our Power”; and this is the Foundation of that Rule of the Law of Nature, “What we cannot do lawfully, is to be reckon’d amongst Impossibilities.”43 This, in the Matter before us, is therefore with more safety injoin’d, because it is most certain, that, “by acting for the Good of the Whole, the main point is insured.” For, by this course, we shall do, both all that is in our own Power, and what is of the greatest Importance toward making our Life happy, as I have already shewn: And the Favour of God (the supreme Disposer of all things) will most certainlymost certainly the Favour or Displeasure of God.be procured, as I shall presently make appear, from Principles acknowledg’d, both by Hobbes and Epicurus. For, since Men can pay nothing more than Love, and the consequences thereof, toward all Rational Beings, (the Head whereof is God,) it is most evident by the Light of Nature, that he owes nothing more, because we cannot be oblig’d to Impossibilities; and, therefore, that nothing more than Love is requir’d of him. Now no One who acknowledges, from the Light of Nature, “That God is the Governour of the World,” will ever deny, “That those, who have perform’d their Duty toward God and Men, shall find themselves highly favoured by Him.” Reason, therefore, may dictate, “That Innocence and Benevolence are the most effectual Means of promoting our own Happiness, as well as that of other Men”; tho’ we cannot demonstrate, “That They will act with Benevolence and Gratitude towards us, and be faithful in the Observance of their Compacts.”
This prov’d from two Topicks.§XIX. I will briefly lay down what I have to say upon this Head. Every Man’s Obligation, to act in pursuance of the Common Good of all, (which is the Summary of the Laws of Nature,) becomes known by those methods, by which we know, “That God, the First Cause of all Things, wills that such Actions should be performed by Men”; or, “That, in his ordinary Government of this World, he has so order’d or adjusted the Powers of all things, that such Actions should be rewarded, and the contrary punished.”
It is of no consequence, whether this Distribution of Rewards and Punishments be made immediately, or put off for a time; provided, that interval of Time be compensated by the greatness of the Rewards and Punishments; and the Reasons for believing that Compensation, manifestly, outweigh all grounds of suspecting the contrary.
Waving, in the present Argument, the consideration of Revelation made by the Prophets in the Scriptures, the Will of God, in these matters, is naturally known, (1.) From those his known Attributes, which, in the order of distinct Knowledge in the Synthetick way,44 go before and incline his Will, to put these things in execution, and may, therefore, be consider’d as Causes of his Willing and Acting thus. (2.) From the Effects, arising from his Will before determined so to act. Of this latter Method of knowing the Divine Will, I have said somewhat already, and more remains yet to be spoken. On the former I shall insist more sparingly, because our Adversaries will hardly grant any thing relating thereunto, and all the Attributes of God are to be deduced by us in the Analytical Method, from his Effects.45 I have, however, thought fit to suggest the little that follows.
1. From the Knowledge of those things, which, as it were, antecedently incline Him to act thus, The Perfection of His Understanding and Will.We must needs conceive, that the Framer of the World is endow’d with Reason, Wisdom, Prudence, and Constancy. For “these are Perfections, which, in some degree, we are sensible of in ourselves (his Workman-ship;) nor is it possible, that any Perfection should be found in the Effect, which is not contained in its Cause. But these Perfections are prior to such a Will as we are now inquiring about, and, as it were, lead to it. Therefore we know such a Will to be in God.” The Minor is prov’d by this, That the Practical Right Reason of Man, and the consequent Volition, must, of necessity, agree with the Judgment and Will of God, in respect to the same Object. For the Judgments of both, as being Right, must agree with the same thing, and, consequently, with one another. The thing, concerning which ought is determined by the Practical Judgment, is either the End, or the Means to the End, concerning both which is determin’d, which is Best. Wherefore God will determine the same End and Means to be best, which the Reason of any Man truly judges to be so. The Matter will become plainer by an Example. If any Man rightly judge, “That the Common Good of All, who act according to the Rule of Reason, is a greater Good than the Good or Happiness of one Man,” (and this is no more, than to judge the Whole to be greater than its Part;) there is no doubt, but that God thinks the same. And it will come to the same thing, if it be affirm’d, “That the Happiness of All is greater than the like Happiness of any smaller Number.” But “that Happiness is the greatest, which is greater than any other assignable.” Nor is it a different Judgment, that by which we affirm, “The greatest Happiness of all Rational Beings is the greatest or chief End, which any Rational Agent can pursue.” For a possible End is nothing else, than that Good or Happiness, which any one may propose to himself to pursue. Therefore there is no room to doubt, but that we shall here also have God’s Concurrence. For, since He himself is Rational, and it cannot be conceiv’d, how he can act rationally, without proposing an End to himself, nor can there be a greater End than the aforesaid Aggregate of all Good Things; we cannot but think, he judges this to be the best End he can propose to himself. Nor is it to be doubted, but that the most perfect Being will pursue that End, which he has rightly judg’d to be the best, all Circumstances rightly consider’d. For no reason can be assigned, why he should stop short of it; nor can the most perfect Will act without Reason, much less, against it. For, altho’ here the Obligation of a Law properly so called, which proceeds from the Will of a Superior, has no place, yet that Perfection, which is Essential to Him, and Invariable, will invariably determine his Will, to concur exactly with his omniscient Understanding. For it implies a Contradiction, that the same Will should at once be Divine or most perfect, and disagree with the most perfect Dictates of the Divine Understanding. But supposing, “That God proposes to himself the Common Good, as an End,” the consequence is easy, “That he Wills, that Men should pursue the same End.”
It is evident, “That the distribution of Rewards and Punishments among Men, is absolutely necessary, and the most certain Means, to lead them to consent and concur with the Divine Will, in promoting this End, and to deter them from Actions contrary thereto.” God, therefore, Wills such Rewards and Punishments, as he knows sufficient to secure this End; he Wills, I say, both to decree them, and actually to distribute them, as occasion requires. Whence may be inferr’d, “That, if any thing, necessary to this End, be wanting in this Life, it will be supplied by God in a Life to come.” And upon this ground, chiefly, it was, that the Heathens formed their Presages of the Happiness, or Miserie, of Men departed this Life, according as their Actions were Good or Evil. But this may be easily learned from their own Writings.
From whence whom are deduced his Moral Attributes and Providence;§XX. I chuse the rather to observe, that, from what I have prov’d concerning the Reason and End of God, may be demonstrated, “That Benevolence, Justice, Equity, and those other Attributes, which have any Analogy with Human Virtues, are actually to be found in God and in his actions; and that it is, therefore, his Will to govern Men by Precepts guarded with Rewards and Punishments”; because it thoroughly over-throws Epicurus’s Notion, That the World is not govern’d by Providence. For it is manifest, both that all these Attributes have a view this way, and, besides, that the whole affair of Government (or Divine Providence, for which we contend) consists in this only, that we know of, “That the Common Good of all Rational Beings should be promoted by the most proper Means.” Which will appear more clearly, from what shall afterwards be laid down, concerning the Virtues and Civil Government.
Here I have thought proper to add only thus much; in vain do the Epicureans ascribe to God Happiness and Majesty, unless they acknowledge in him Wisdom, or Prudence, and Justice, and, consequently, every kind of Virtue. For all the Virtues spring from Prudence, (which directs to the Best End by Proper Means,) as from their Fountain, which Epicurus has acknowledg’d:46 And they are all only integral parts of Universal Justice. But there can be no Happiness, no Majesty, nor even Dignity, in any Rational Agent, if he has not Prudence, nor any Virtue Analogous thereto.47 Nor can there be any Prudence, except the best End be chosen, and the Means most suitable thereto; nor can these be chose, if they are not, in their own Nature, fixt and determin’d: That is, if nothing be good, before it is chose, and one End be no better than another, nor any Means more conducive than the contrary, to that End. For Example, if the Publick Good be not greater than any Private; and if Innocence, Fidelity, Gratitude, &c. are not properer Means to attain this End, than Cruelty, Perfidiousness, and Ingratitude. Certainly Power, how great soever it may be imagin’d, if it be consider’d without Wisdom and Justice, has in it no more of Happiness or Majesty, than what is to be found in a Mass of Lead of infinite Weight; for Weight is equivalent to any Power, as those skill’d in Mechanicks very well know. This Reasoning is yet of more Force against the Epicureans, because they themselves, if we may believe Gassendus, or even Velleius, who, in Cicero, defends their opinions, acknowledge the Happiness of the Gods to consist in this also, that they rejoice in their own Wisdom and Virtue.48 But there is left no Subject for them to work upon, except they own, that they take care of that chief common End, and the Means leading thereto. Take them away, and the name only of Wisdom, or Virtue, or Deity, remains, the thing itself is gone.
also from his being the First Cause.§XXI. Of near affinity with this Argument, drawn from the Divine Attributes, is that which is taken from the notion of a First Cause, the first notion Men learn of God from his Works; for that implies, “That all Creatures, but especially Rational, have receiv’d their Existence, and, consequently, all the Powers essential to their Nature, from his Will.” Now, because it is certain, that the Common Good of Men signifies nothing else, but the Preservation of their Nature, and the most flourishing State of their essential Powers; the Mind of Man cannot but conclude it far more probable, “That the same invariable Will, which gave Men Existence, would will rather their Continuance and Happiness, so far as is consistent with the necessary nature of the rest of the System, which he made at the same time, than that they should be thrown down from that State, in which he himself had plac’d them, without any real necessity, which can arise only from a regard to the preservation of the Whole.” For I suppose it known from true Principles of Natural Philosophy, “That the natural Vicissitudes of Things, their Generation and Corruption, always rise from the Laws of Motion, by which the whole System of the World is preserv’d.” It must certainly proceed from the same Goodness, “To cause Men to be,” and, “To cause them to be preserv’d and assisted, according to the condition of their Nature, as far as the Welfare of the Whole permits.” But, because neither the Understanding of Man can conceive, nor the Power of Man effect, any thing greater relating to the Creatures, than what regards the Preservation of Mankind, he must of necessity think, that this is the greatest affair God Wills them to take care of. And, doubtless, seeing he commits the care of this to Man, he will reward his Fidelity and Diligence, and will punish his Perfidiousness or Sloth. Thus, from this Will to create, is discover’d his Will to preserve and protect Man, and, from hence, our Obligation to be subservient to the same Will so known.
Almost in the same manner we collect, that it is the Will of God, “That Men should honour Him.”49 Because it was his Will, that there should be so many Proofs of his Perfections, in the Creation and Preservation of this System which we inhabit; and that Men should be so form’d, that, if they would but exert the powers of their own Understanding, they could not but observe these things; he Will’d, that they should both know and acknowledge, what he is. And, because he Will’d, that Men should be Rational, that is, consistent with themselves, and averse to all contradiction, he Wills, that their Words and Actions should keep pace with their Thoughts concerning his Perfections, that is, he Wills, that they should Worship and Honour Him.
From our knowledge of those Effects which suppose this Will, viz.§XXII. The second method of knowing that God Wills, “That Actions conducing to the Common Good of Rational Agents should be perform’d by Men”; or, that he wills, “That such Actions should be honoured with Rewards, or the contrary restrain’d by Punishments,” is taken from the Effects of this Will, that is, from the Rewards and Punishments themselves, which, by means of the inward Constitution of all Men, and of this whole System of the World, fram’d by the appointment of the Divine Will, are the natural and ordinary consequences of Human Actions; and do render Men, either miserable by Evil, or happy by Good. For it is not to be doubted, but that God, who has so establish’d the natural Order of all things, that the Consequences of Human Actions, with respect to the Actors themselves, should be such; and who has caus’d, that these ordinary Consequences may be fore-known, or expected, with the highest probability, by them; Will’d, that, before they prepar’d for Action, they should consider these things, and be determin’d by them, as by Arguments contain’d in the Sanction of the Laws.
the Internal Pleasures and Pains, or External Good and Evil, which accompany the pursuit or violations of the Common Good.Such kind of Effects are, those Internal Pleasures of Mind, which accompany every noble Action intended for the publick Good; and, on the contrary, those Fears and Anxieties of Mind, which, like Furies, pursue the Wicked: And also those External Rewards and Punishments, by which other Rational Agents, according to the Dictates of right Reason concerning the best End and Means, preserve Mankind from Destruction, and promote the common Happiness. For, since as many as form a true judgment concerning the Greatest End and the Means of obtaining it, (viz. That the common Good is the greatest End which can be propos’d, and that Rewards and Punishments are the Means conducing thereto,) are determin’d to those Practical Judgments, by the Nature of those things about which they deliberate, whose impressions upon the Human Understanding are perfectly necessary; and, since the Connexion between necessary Causes and all their Effects proceeds from the First Cause; it follows, “That those Dictates of right Reason, by which any Men resolve upon the necessity of distributing Rewards and Punishments in order to the common Good, proceeds from God.” That is, “All Men are determin’d by God, by the intervention of the Nature of Things, to judge both, that the common Good is the Best End, or the Greatest Good, which can be obtained, and in which all men may naturally agree, as that which contains (as far as the Nature of all Things will permit) the private Happiness of all particular Persons: And, that it is likewise necessary, as the Means to this End, that every one take as much care as possible, that Rewards and Punishments be distributed, by which Actions in pursuance of this End may be encouraged, and the contrary restrain’d.
are the Effects of his Present Will, and the Declarations of his Future.But, since in those Propositions, concerning the Best End and the Means leading thereto, or concerning the Greatest Good and its Causes, which are within the power of Men, are contained all those Conclusions which we call the Laws of Nature, it follows, “That all those Laws are, together with the aforesaid Propositions, imprinted upon the Minds of Men by the Will of the First Cause; and, therefore, that he will’d, that Rewards and Punishments should be distributed, according as these Practical Dictates of Reason suggest, as far as can be done by Men”: Whence the Conclusion is, “That every such Punishment, and every Reward, so distributed, is distributed according to his Will, and that they are all Effects and Declarations of the Divine Will”; which when known, Men cannot be ignorant of their Obligation thence arising. It is further manifest, “That the same God, alwaies consistent with himself, who will’d, that Men should secure, to the utmost of their power, the Common Good by Rewards and Punishments, will also take care, where the Power of Men does not sufficiently defend it, to protect it by his own Power.
I thought it proper, to insist the longer upon this Argument in this Treatise, because I hop’d my Antagonists, who are so intent upon their own Preservation, would the more willingly acknowledge its Force; and, because the Nature of Things seem’d to propose many Proofs of this matter, which requir’d a very particular Explication. I, therefore, resolve Moral Obligation, (which is the immediate Effect of Nature’s Laws,) into their First and Principal Cause, which is the Will and Counsel of God promoting the Common Good; and, therefore, by Rewards and Punishments, enacting into Laws the Practical Propositions which tend thereto. Mens care of their own Happiness, which causes them to consider, and be moved by, Rewards and Punishments, is no Cause of Obligation; That proceeds, wholly, from the Law and the Lawgiver: It is only a necessaryDisposition in the Subject, without which the Rewards and Penalties of the Law would be of no Force to induce Men to the performance of their Duty.50 As Contact is necessary in the Communication of Motion from Body to Body; tho’ Force impress’d be the only Cause of that Motion.
It ought, also, in confirmation of this Point, to be consider’d, “That the Obligation lies upon them too, whose Mind is so stupid, that they wholly neglect the Divine Will, and the Sanction thereby annex’d to the Law.” I must add, “That the Care of preserving and perfecting our-selves, which is natural and inseparable from Man, and that which is super-induced by right Reason, and, which I acknowledge, has some place among the Motives to good Actions, tho’ not a Cause of our Obligation to them, are both wholly from God.” From thence it follows, “That the force of this Care detracts nothing from his Authority or Honour, and that it ought to have its due Influence.”
However, his own Happiness is an extremely-small part of that End, which a truly-rational Man pursues, and bears only that proportion to the whole End, (the Common Good, with which it is interwove by God the Author of Nature,) which one Man bears to the collective Body of all Rational Beings, which is less than what the smallest grain of Sand bears to the whole Mass of Matter. Because God (between Whom and Man there is no Proportion) is reckon’d among Rational Beings, and the Care of the Publick Good includes in the first place, his Honour, and then the Happiness of all Men, which exist at present, or shall exist hereafter.
The Obligation, however, of the Laws of Nature is immutable, the Natures of Things remaining as they are.§XXIII. Lastly, to prevent all Suspicion, that I imagin’d the Obligation of the Laws of Nature, which I have deduc’d from the Will of the First Cause, to be Arbitrary and Mutable, I have thought fit to add, “That, laying aside the Consideration of the Divine Command, the Exercise of Benevolence, and, consequently, of all the Virtues, does as naturally and necessarily produce the private Happiness of every Rational Agent, and the common Happiness of All, as any Natural Cause produces its Effect, or a Necessary Mean its End”; that is, as two and two make four, or as the Operations prescrib’d by Geometry and Mechanicks solve the propos’d Problems. A Necessity this so Immutable, that neither the Wisdom, nor the Will of God can be thought capable of appointing a contrary Law or Constitution, whilst the Nature of Things remains such as now it is. It is, however, certain, that every Human Action and Effect, and, consequently, Arithmetical and Geometrical Operations with all their Effects, depend upon the Will of the First Cause. Our whole inquiry is concerning the Existence of the Laws of Nature, and of their Obligation, which must intirely be deduced from the Will of the First Cause; I mean that Act of his Will, (and that only, as will appear by what follows,) by which the Powers, Actions, and Natures, of Rational Beings exist. Wherefore any Mutability in the Obligation of the Laws of Nature, is so far from being hence to be inferr’d, that, on the contrary, it has been my chief aim to prove, “That it is not possible, without manifold Contradictions, that God should at the same time will, that Rational Agents should be such as they are, and that they should not be oblig’d by those Laws of Nature, which we shall afterwards lay down.” This is the only Method, by which any thing can be prov’d impossible to God; for he can do any thing, which does not imply a Contradiction. But, if any one imagines, that He can make contradictory Propositions be at the same time true, by parity of Reason it may be true, That he cannot do so; and therefore the Assertion is vain. All considerate Persons, therefore, I believe, will think, that I have prov’d the Law of Nature sufficiently immutable, when I have shewn, “That it cannot be chang’d without Contradiction, whilst the Nature of Things, and their actual Powers, (which depend upon the Divine Will,) remain unchang’d.” And this Is ufficiently prove, when I make it appear, “That both the common Happiness of All proceeds from the natural efficacy of the Actions of universal Benevolence, and that the Happiness of particular Persons is naturally in separable from the Common, with which all are bless’d.” Partly, because the Happiness of the particular Parts is not, in reality, distinguished from the Welfare of the Whole: Partly, because we in some measure render our-selves happy by those Actions, by which we benefit others, and, as far as in us lies, thereby determine them to a grateful Return. Thus it is, that Actions of publick Benefit naturally reward their Authors: Where as contrary Actions no less naturally pull down Punishments and Destruction upon their Contrivers.
These Evils more particularly deduc’d, and shewn to to be Punishments.§XXIV. I will now (having discarded that Right of every Man to every thing, and the War thence arising, which, as I have shewn, Hobbes in vain endeavours to establish) assume that, which, forced by the glaring truth of the Matter, he grants, “That there follows War and the Destruction of All, upon the violation of those Dictates of Reason, which forbid, that any one should claim to himself a Right to all things, and which command to perform Compacts, &c. in observing which Dictates all Virtues consist.” I say, that these Evils of War are truly Punishments inseparably united with such Crimes, by the Will of the supreme Governour, when he settled the order of the Universe. From this, that the Mind of Man is forewarn’d by the Nature of Things, and, consequently, by God its Author, of the Punishment connected with such an Action, the Obligation to abstain from such Action, is publish’d; or the Mind is sufficiently forbid, so to act; and the Prohibition is so much the plainer, as it appears, that the Action will be hurtful, as well to others, as to its Author.
In my Opinion, “The Common Good” (under which I comprehend the Honour of God, and the greatest Happiness of Mankind) “is pleasanter than even Life itself, and, alwaies, to be preferr’d before it”; and, therefore, “Those Evils, which either detract from the Honour of God, or endanger the greatest Perfection of Human Minds, are to be esteem’d a greater Evil, than the loss of any one’s Life.” Whence I reckon it amongst the Natural Punishments, that the Violation of the Laws of Nature is attended with, that it hurts the principal Faculties of the Transgressor, introduces Folly and Error into the Understanding, and a perverse Choice of Evil under the Appearance of Good.
Whence we may easily proceed to a further Proof of the same kind, from the Joies and Griefs arising in the Mind, from a Consciousness of our Consent with, or Dis-sent from, the Benevolent Will of God.But, because Reasonings of this kind, as depending upon much Reflexion on our own Minds, do not so sensibly affect the Minds of those, who have of a long time, studied only the Safety or Delights of their Body, I think it proper to lay before them those external Evils, which Hobbes acknowledges proceed from the Violation of the Precepts of Virtue, the necessary Means to Peace,51 and to consider them as a Punishment annex’d to the Laws of Nature by the Author thereof, that thus, by Instances frequently obvious to Sense, I may prove, “How the Mis-chief, which redounds to those who are Enemies to the Publick Good, by the natural Establishment of Physical Causes, but principally by the Intention of Rational Agents, is properly and truly a Punishment, and an Indication, that the Author of Nature has establish’d that Law, the Violation whereof was so punish’d.” By the same Reasoning it will appear, “That all Advantages, which are the Fruits of that Peace and Concord, which are establish’d by the pursuit of the Common Good, become truly a Reward, and prove the obligatory Force of a Law to be given by God to the affirmative Precepts of Virtue.” Afterwards it will hence easily appear, how those Things Good or Evil, with respect to our Minds, which may be foreseen as the Consequences of our Actions or Omissions relating to the Common Good; and also, how the Joies and Griefs proceeding from our Sense of the Happiness or Misery of others; point out, to what kind of Actions we are oblig’d. “The Mind of Man, by these steps, may at length easily raise itself, to have some Notion or Taste of that most delightful Joy, which arises from the Consciousness, that in Practical Principles our Mind agrees with the Mind or Will of God, the most Benevolent Being; and to conceive the Bitterness of that Grief, which arises from the Consciousness, that our Thoughts and Affections are directly opposite to those of God, conspicuous in his Government of Men.” In these Joies is the highest pitch of our Happiness, in these Griefs consists the most wretched Misery. And, therefore, I affirm, the Dictates of Reason do hence chiefly receive their power of Obligation. Wherefore, seeing they obtain all the Force and Efficacy of a Law, from the Will ofGod joining so great Rewards to their Observance, and Punishments to their Violation, there is no reason to refuse them the appellation of Natural Laws. But it is proper to begin with Instances sensible and confess’d.
The Evils inflicted on others, at the command of right Reason, for Actions hurtful to Mankind, are properly Punishments, and the Sanctions of a Divine Law.§XXV. It is manifest, from the very Terms themselves (as the Logicians call them) well understood, “That so great an innundation of Evils, from War or the less cruel Enmities of every Man against every Man, would overflow Mankind, that, for the Preservation of the Whole, it is necessary to seek Peace”; but the Means necessary to obtain Peace, are, To permit to others those things which are necessary for them, Faithfully to observe Compacts, To behave ourselves Gratefully and Beneficently to all, and To practice all the other Virtues, which (if they be throughly consider’d) all promote the Common Good. These Truths, even Hobbes himself acknowledges, as appears de Cive, c. 1. §. 15. c. 2. §. 3. & c. 3. §. 1. and the following; and he repeats the same in the Leviathan, but deduces them from the care of Self-preservation only;52Publick Good, at least before the establishment of Civil Societies, he does not acknowledge. Mean-while he most diligently inculcates this, “That a War of All against All, in which there are no grounds to hope for Safety, will follow from those Actions, by which any one claims to himself a Right over all Persons and Things, as being contrary to those plainly necessary Means to Peace, which are usually celebrated under the Name of Virtues.”53 It is most certain, “That Men, in all States, are forc’d by Self-preservation, to oppose and punish those, who would force from them, however Innocent, either their Life or the Necessaries there of.”54 But, for this very Reason, that these Evils are inflicted upon others, at the command of right Reason, upon account of Actions prejudicial to Mankind, they are Punishments, and those Practical Propositions, which teach, that it is necessary to Peace, “That we should do to others, what we would that they should do unto us,”55 have this Punishment annex’d, by the Author of our rational Nature, to their Violation, and are hence known, to obtain the intire force of Laws: Nor are, now, any more to be look’d upon, as mere Practical Propositions, which one may use or neglect to use with Safety, (such as those that teach the Construction of Mathematical Problems;) they are properly Laws, and claim to themselves the Obedience due to Laws.
Here (as in the Laws of Civil States) the Obligation of the Law is discover’d, from its Sanction by Rewards and Punishments; the Right of guarding the Laws of Nature by such Sanctions, is to be resolv’d into the natural Authority of God, in right of which he exercises an universal Dominion: The real Goodness of these Laws becomes known, from the natural and necessary Connexion of the Actions commanded, with the preservation or increase of the Common Good: Almost in the same manner, as the Right of annexing Penalties to Civil Laws is resolv’d into the Authority of the chief Governours, and their Goodness into the Fitness of the Actions commanded, to promote the Common Weal. For Example, that universal Proposition, which we have premis’d concerning the force of Benevolence towards all Rational Beings, to procure the Happiness of the Benevolent, naturally obliges Men to such Benevolence, upon this account, “That the Ruler of Mankind has given them natural means of knowing, that he himself is so inclin’d toward the Common Good, and has so constituted the order of Nature, that they, who endeavour to promote the Common Good, shall thereby, not only have the concurrence of the Natural, but gain the favour of those Rational, Agents, which can contribute to their Happiness,” (which assistance is also a Natural Reward:) And they, who act otherwise, shall, by such Actions, excite against themselves the causes of their Destruction.
As many learn the Laws of their own Country, not from the Laws themselves publish’d in Writing, or from the Mouth of the Legislators, but from the judgment of their Reason concerning the proper Causes of the Publick Good, and from the Observation of those Things, which they perceive to be publickly rewarded, permitted, or punish’d; so, what are the Laws of a Rational Nature, or of the Kingdom of God, we learn first, by a diligent consideration, what things are necessary to the Happiness of all the Subjects, and to the Honour of God, the Sovereign of that greatest State; and afterwards by observing, how naturally and necessarily Men are inclin’d, to restrain those who pursue contrary Measures.
It is not to be doubted, but “That the First Cause commanded that Punishment to be inflicted, which right and necessary Reason commands to be inflicted”; for that is intirely determin’d by the nature of things exactly weigh’d, and, consequently, by God the Maker of all Things. We may likewise infer, “That God decrees Rewards to such Actions, as the right Reason of Man decrees Rewards to”; and also, “That it is his Will, that those Propositions, concerning Actions contributing any thing to the Common Good, should obtain the force of Laws, which he has honour’d” (beyond other True and Practical Propositions, Geometrical, for Instance) “with Rewards and Punishments thus establish’d.”
God will certainly punish such crimes as escape Human Knowledge, and those that Human Power is too weak to restrain.Further; if God teaches Men to judge, “That it is necessary, both to the Common Good and the Private Good of particular Persons, that all violations of the Peace should be, when they come to know of what evil consequence they are, restrain’d by Punishments”; we may clearly gather by a Parity of Reason, “Not only that he himself so judges, and Wills that Men should do so too; but also, that he makes the same judgment on all Actions equally hurtful, which Men either do not know, or cannot punish.” For it is most certain, That every Right Judgment, and consequently the Divine, determines alike concerning Cases wholly alike; and that the most secret Actions cannot be conceal’d from him: And that, therefore, there can be no Reason, why he should forbear to pass a Judgment upon them, as Men are often oblig’d to do, left by a rash Judgment they should hurt the Innocent.” This reasoning is obvious to all, whence they cannot but think with themselves, “That God has appointed Punishments to their secret Crimes,” and, “that he will avenge the insults upon the Weak.” For there is no reason to doubt, but that he will pursue this End, the Common Good, in which both his own Honour and the Happiness of all Rational Beings is contain’d. For a greater End there cannot be; and a less End cannot be taken for the Greatest, by him who judges truly. Thus the Pangs and Obligation of Conscience take their Origin from the Government of God.
Human Rewards and Punishments, foreseen as probably, tho’ not certainly, future, may be justly rated at a certain present value, and are therefore properly said to lay us under an Obligation, and are sufficient Motives of Action.§XXVI. But let us return to the Punishments inflicted by Men, for violating the conditions necessary to Peace; more things concerning the Obligation, which we have prov’d from thence, remaining to be explain’d. For it is to be observ’d, that, altho’ such Crimes sometimes escape unpunish’d by Men, yet we may truly affirm, that they are determined by Nature and right Reason to punish them, as far as lies in their power; and that it is therefore by accident only, that they sometimes permit wicked Persons to escape unpunish’d. So other Effects, which we either do or suffer to be done, thro’ natural Ignorance or Weakness, are imputed rather to Chance than to human Nature, and are usually reckon’d by wise Men among those things which rarely happen. Now right Reason, while it delivers the Precepts and Rules of Action, will never advise us to place our Hopes in such Events, or expect the Means of Happiness from thence. On the contrary, it will tell us the safest way to Happiness is by Benevolent Actions, which, upon this very account, is more particularly acceptable to God and agreeable to our own Nature; in which we need neither fear the Divine Vengeance, which neither the Force nor Stratagems of Men can elude; nor the Punishments threatened by Men, which ought to be consider’d, at least, as probable. Concerning these, however contingent, right Reason concludes thus much with certainty, that, as Advantages, contingently future only, have a certain determinate Value, and contain in themselves the real nature of Good, which wise Men, from the observation of the Causes upon which they depend, know how to estimate at a certain Price to be paid at present; (This is done daily in the purchase of Reversions, and in other like cases:) So also Future Contingent Evils, (among which the Punishments Reason teaches to inflict upon all who are hurtful to the Innocent, ought to be reckon’d,) are to be estimated as Evils present and certain, but somewhat less. So the Hazard of losing Life, Health, Expence, and Pains,(all which happen in human affairs,) every where, with Reason, increases the Price of Labour; and is therefore compensated at a certain and present Rate, no less than a present and certain Evil accruing and Gain ceasing. Wherefore, natural right Reason plainly teaches, “That the Hazard of imminent Punishment may be rated as a present and certain Evil, tho’ it sometimes happens, that the guilty Person may avoid it”; which, however, will be lessen’d, according to the Degrees of Hope, which anyone, from a through knowledge of all Circumstances, has of escaping those Punishments. Let therefore that Punishment, to the Hazard of which the Invader of another’s Property exposes himself, be suppos’d somewhat less than it would be if it were actually inflicted, as soon as the Crime were committed; that is, let as much be subtracted from the Greatness thereof, as Reason prescribes upon this account, that it is uncertain, whether it will be inflicted or no; and yet there will remain more Evil, than can be compensated by the unjust Gain: That Excess then of Evil is a Penal Sanction to the Dictate of Reason, which forbids the Invasion of another’s Property.
’Tis of great importance to this Argument, to observe, “That natural Reason instructs all Men, even out of civil Society, so to enhance the Punishments of Crimes, that, tho’ much should be detracted from them upon account of uncertain Execution, the present estimated Evil of the foreseen Punishments should much overbalance the Gain expected from the Crime.” This is manifest, both in the Punishments, which are by either Party inflicted by the right of War56 for smaller Injuries done those, who are not subject to the same Civil Government; and in those Cases, in which Civil Laws permit the Punishment of the Crime to the Discretion of the Subjects aggriev’d; for Example, the Vengeance on those, who by night break open other Mens Houses, or who rob upon the Highway.57 In such Cases Men are, in some measure, reduc’d to Hobbes’s State of Nature, and, in that, even smaller Crimes are punish’d capitally: Nor unjustly, for, because the Civil Magistrate is often unable to come to the knowledge of such Crimes, they often escape unpunish’d; therefore, when soever Punishment can be taken, it is taken most heavily, that, by how much the more they are embolden’d, from the Hope of frequent Impunity, so much the more they may be check’d by the fear of the severest Punishment. And this seems to me the true Reason, why such Revenge as appears very horrible, is sometimes necessary in War; And why, even in Civil States, more grievous Punishments are inflicted, than would be requisite, if all Crimes that are committed, were immediately judg’d and punished. For these Reasons I think it evident, “That the foreseen Hazard, especially of more grievous Punishment, (altho’ the Certainty of its future Execution could not be known,) has a constant and perpetual power of determining the Will, to avoid all deliberate Actions, against which those Punishments are threaten’d.” In like manner; “The foreseen Probability of a very great Good, is a proper Weight to determine Men to those Actions, which may be any way instrumental in procuring it.” Or, to explain the Metaphor, these considerations furnish an Argument concluding necessarily, “That a Practice conformable to the Law is one of the causes of that compleat Happiness we naturally desire,” which is sufficient to infer an Obligation. For the Natural Obligation of the Laws of Nature leaves those who are oblig’d, at liberty to act otherwise at their own peril: It furnishes only a proper Argument, to induce the Person oblig’d, to act or to forbear, as Reason or the Law commands him.
The Nature of Moral Obligation explain’d, and Justinian’s shewn to express the same sense, that the Author’s does but more obscurely.§XXVII. Here, lest I should be thought to use Words in a Sense different from what is usual, I shall briefly shew, that what I have said is implied in the received Definition of Obligation.
Justinian gives this Definition of it, “Obligation is that Bond of the Law, by which we are tied with the Necessity of paying any thing, according to the Laws of our State.”58 It is evident, that what is said of “payment” and “his State” is special, and ought, therefore, to be omitted in the general notion of Obligation, after which we are inquiring; and that the rest that goes before in the Definition, is indeed general, but somewhat obscure from Metaphors; for the Mind of Man is not properly “tied with Bonds.”
There is nothing which can super induce a Necessity of doing or forbearing any thing, upon a Human Mind deliberating upon a thing future, except Thoughts or Propositions promising Good or Evil, to ourselves or others, consequent upon what we are about to do. But, because we are determin’d, by some sort of natural Necessity, to pursue Good foreseen, especially the Greatest; and to avoid Evils; hence those Dictates of Reason, which discover to us, that these things will follow from certain of our Actions, are said to lay upon us some kind of Necessity of performing or omitting those Actions, and to oblige us; because those Advantages are necessarily connected with our Happiness, which we naturally desire, and our Actions are evidently necessary to the attainment of them.
I, therefore, think, that Moral Obligation may be thus universally and properly defin’d. Obligation is that Act of a Legislator, by which he declares, that Actions conformable to his Law are necessary to those, for whom the Law is made. An Action is then understood to be necessary to a rational Agent, when it is certainly one of the Causes necessarily requir’d to that Happiness, which he naturally, and consequently necessarily, desires. Thus we are oblig’d to pursue the Common Good, when the Nature of Things (especially of Rational Causes,) expos’d to our Observation, discovers to our Minds, that this Action is a Cause necessarily requisite to compleat our Happiness; which, therefore, naturally depends upon the pursuit of the Common Good of all Rational Agents; as the Soundness of a Member depends upon the Soundness and Life of the whole Animated Body; or, as the Strength of our Hands can not effectually be preserved, without first preserving that Life and Strength, which is diffus’d thro’ our whole Body. For every Man’s proper Happiness does no less naturally depend upon the influence of the First Cause, and the mutual assistance of other Rational Agents, which is to be procured by the pursuit of the Common Good, than the Hand depends upon the rest of the Body; altho’ the Dependence of one Man upon others consists in fewer particulars, and is often more remote, and, therefore, not alwaies so evident: I have shewn before, “That the prosecution of the Common Good is essentially requisite to every one’s Happiness”; by proving, “That in such Actions consists the most happy State of our Faculties”; here we learn, “That by these Actions its Preservation and further Perfection may most effectually be procured from God and Men.” But we resolve all into those voluntary Acts of the First Cause, by which he has determin’d the Measure of our Faculties, and their proper Happiness thence arising; and by which he has plac’d and continues us depending in such a System, upon other Rational Causes. For these things being establish’d, the Foundation and natural Discovery of our Obligation are necessarily establish’d, and thence arise, with the same Necessity, first our Knowledge, and then our actual Obligation.
It amounts to the same thing, when we say, “That the Obligation is an Act of the Legislator,” or of the First Cause; as if in this place we had call’d it, “An Act of the Law of Nature.” For the Legislator obliges by the Law sufficiently promulg’d, and he sufficiently promulges it, when he discovers to our Minds, “That the prosecution of the Common Good is the Cause necessarily requisite to that Happiness, which every one necessarily desires.”
Upon discovering this, all Men are oblig’d; whether it be of so great Weight with them, as perfectly to incline their Minds to what it persuades; or whether what is alledg’d in favour of the contrary Opinion, weigh more. Those Bodies, which, thro’ a Fault in the Balance, are raised by a smaller Weight in the opposite Scale, are yet in themselves heavier, or have a greater tendency toward the Center of the Earth.
It is to be observ’d, that those Arguments, which prove our Obligation, in this case would certainly prevail; unless the Ignorance, turbulent Affections, or Rashness of Men, like the Fault in the Balance, oppos’d their Efficacy; as discovering, beside Rewards and Punishments manifested or express’d, that others greater (if there be occasion) will be added at the pleasure of the supreme Governour of the World.
The Obligation to promote the Common Good, as a necessary End, being once settled, it will hence follow, “That the common Obligation of all Men, to pursue the Dictates of Reason concerning the Means necessary thereto, is likewise known.”
The Sum of all these Dictates is contain’d in our Proposition, “concerning the Benevolence of each Rational Agent towards All”; from whence ’tis evident, that a War of each against All tends to the Common Destruction, and cannot by any method be a Means conducing to the Happiness of All, or even be consistent with the Means necessary to that End; and, therefore, can neither be enjoin’d, nor permitted, by right Reason.
Every Man’s own Happiness, tho’ necessarily sought by him, is not his Adequate End of Action.§XXVIII. Altho’ I have suppos’d, That every one necessarily seeks his own greatest Happiness, yet I am far from thinking that to be the intire and adequate End of any one. I was willing to assume, what my Adversaries would allow, in order to carry them farther with me, if it were possible: For, as the Frame of our Body cannot subsist, or enjoy Health, except the great System of Bodies about us contribute somewhat to this Effect; nor can any one, rightly understanding the Nature of Things, wish that it were otherwise, because he knows it to be impossible: So the intire Happiness of every particular Man naturally depends upon the Benevolence of God, and of other Men; but neither can the Benevolence of God toward any one be separated from his regard to his own Honour; nor the favourable inclination of others towards us, be disjoin’d from their care of their own Happiness; nay, we must needs acknowledge this to be stronger in them, than their Affection towards us: Wherefore it is impossible, that he who duly considers the Nature of Rational Beings, should desire that they should assist us, except their own Preservation were at the same time taken care of; and, therefore, he cannot propose to himself his own Happiness, separately from that of others, as his adequate End.
But jointly (1.) with the Honour of God,But let us distinctly consider, what I have but now briefly hinted; and, First, no one, who acknowledges the Divine Providence to be sufficiently prov’d from the Nature of Things, can deny, “That every Man’s Happiness depends upon the Benevolence of God, as upon a Cause necessarily requisite.” But, who can ground his Expectations of the Divine Favour upon right Reason, except he sincerely render God that Honour, which he has Reason to believe acceptable to Him? Hence the various Precepts of Religion; hence the Precepts of Justice, and of every Virtue that can be mutually exercised among Men, are shewn to be Means necessary to every Man’s Happiness, and therefore to oblige every Man; because it is most certain, “That the Governour of the World is by no Means honour’d, except all his innocent Subjects be justly and kindly treated, according to the Conditions necessary to the Preservation of Universal Peace”; that is, as all the Virtues prescribe.
and (2.) the Happiness of Men.§XXIX. What I have hinted, beside, “That every Man in some measure depends upon the Benevolence of other Men,” I believe to be most true; but not so obvious, but that it requires the attentive Consideration of what I shall presently offer, and perhaps of other matters, which every one’s Experience may easily suggest to him.
As First, “That every Man’s Happiness consists in a great Collection of many Good Things, and that it is not sufficiently safe, unless we provide for the Future long before, and reconcile to ourselves, as far as in us lies, all the Causes, which can contribute any thing to this Effect.” This makes way for the Concurrence of innumerable Causes, so that there is scarce any part of this Visible World, but what may be in some measure useful to every one; much less is there any Man, who neither was, nor is, nor may be, contributing, something at least, to our Preservation or Perfection. For (after Mankind is suppos’d to become numerous) “No-one can be imagin’d, whose Happiness and Pleasures of Life do not immediately depend upon two (at least;) each of these two stands in need of other two, in order to live happily.” In like manner, “Every Nation wants the Commerce of two other Nations, and others are likewise necessary to these.” By proceeding in this manner we shall find, “That every one assists every one.” It is not however necessary, minutely to consider, “What Benefit we receive from every Individual”; it is sufficient that we perceive, that all contribute somewhat to the Common Stock, which ought to be compensated by us with like pains bestow’d upon the Publick. Such kind of human Actions as these, seem to me fitly to be compar’d to the general Motions of Bodies Natural, which at once contribute to many Effects.
It is in the next place to be consider’d, “That the Word Benevolence is taken by me in the largest Sense, so as to include the lowest degrees of Innocence, Fidelity, Gratitude, or any kind office of Humanity perform’d by others to us.” Any one has it in his power, but at his own Peril, a thousand waies to create to others innumerable Troubles spreading themselves far and wide; if Men act otherwise, and stop short of that wild Malevolence, which threatens War, that is, all the greatest Evils to All, it is to be attributed to some degree of Benevolence. Whatever is done, which in its own Nature ever so little conduces to the preservation of Peace and a general Good-Will among Men, that protects many from most grievous Evils, and is, therefore, of great Advantage.
It were endless to attempt recounting all the particular Advantages, which accrue from a Benevolence of each towards All. It is very well known, that they who have least in their power, benefit others; either by the Exchange of Things or Services, or by observing Compacts, or by giving us reason to place a Confidence in them, even without Compacts, or by the Examples which they afford (if not of great Exploits, yet) of Industry, Patience or Innocence. These things are consider’d by Men, even without any respect to Civil Government, and extend their influence over the whole Earth. The very Imperfections and Infirmities of Men, so far as they naturally excite Pity, and point out the necessity of Government, do strongly persuade all to concur in instituting and preserving it, and are, therefore, of considerable use to all, as they any way contribute to the vast Advantages of Society. I own, however, that the Advantage is but small, which each receives from many, especially the more remote, but we give them in return only a like share of the effects of our Industry; yet even these cannot with safety be neglected, because the whole Happiness, and that not small, of particular Persons, grows out of such minute offices of Humanity included in the care of the Common Good, almost in the same manner as this most beautiful Frame of the Material World arises, from the regular Motions and Figures of the minute Particles of Matter. But, having in the Chapter concerning Human Nature enumerated many particulars, which demonstrate, “That Men have, from Nature, both Power and Inclination to do good Offices to others, provided they are consistent with their own Happiness”; the little I have mention’d may warrant my supposing it at present as sufficiently prov’d, “That Men, of all Created Beings, are the principal Causes, upon which every one must acknowledge his present and future Happiness upon Earth necessarily depends.” For the same reason there is no occasion to add here any thing farther, to shew “the Unreasonableness of expecting, that Men should willingly labour to make those happy, whom they know to be in themselves Malevolent, Perfidious, Ingrateful, Inhuman”; or the Reasonableness of taking it for evident, “That others will concur to restrain or destroy such by condign Punishments.”
The Law of Universal Benevolence obliges, with respect to all Persons, and at all Times, the Weak as well as the Strong; in Private, as well as in Publick.§XXX. It is to be observ’d, “That there is so strict a mutual Dependence among all Rational Beings, that it admonishes Man, thro’ the whole course of Life, of the Vanity of imagining, that he has sufficiently provided for his own Happiness, tho’ he have performed all the offices of Humanity to one Person, or for one Time; if he has at pleasure broke thro’ them, with respect to another Person, or at another Time.” This is evident, not only from what I have now been saying, viz. Because the Happiness of every particular Person perpetually depends, immediately indeed upon Many, but remotely, and with respect to smaller Matters, upon All who regard the Common Good: But also because the same Common Father of All, the First Cause, takes care of All: And lastly, because whatever any one of these, from the Dictates of right Reason, wills should be done to himself or others, That do all, who are truly Rational, will necessarily and alwaies, so far as they come to the knowledge there of.59For “all, (both God and Men) who think justly of the same thing, agree.”
Hence it is, “That to deny any one his own,” that is, those Necessaries without which he is incapable of promoting the Common Good, “is to act in prejudice to the Common Benefit, and contrary to the Opinion and Will of all who judge rightly”; whence it follows, “That every one, in a state of Equality here suppos’d, has a Right, and is excited, to punish such Invasion, as Opportunity offers, which all Men can never long be without, but God never; against whom no Place of Concealment, nor Power, nor even Death itself, can defend the Wicked.”
Which Observation I make chiefly with this view, that it may thence appear, “That the Obligation to study to promote the Common Good (which is the Summary of the Laws of Nature,) which is discover’d naturally by the Punishments and Rewards annex’d to Actions, according as they are contrary, or suited, to this End, is evidently perpetual, and binding in all Circumstances; and, therefore, a sufficient Motive to Universal Justice and Benevolence, as well in Secret as in Publick, with respect to the Weak as well as to the Strong.” For, since it is hence evident, “That all who are perfectly Rational are united among themselves, because right Reason, wherever it is, is alwaies consistent with right Reason, and because the Causes of their Common Happiness are the same”; and since it has been also specially shewn, “That He, whoever he is, who is about to do any Act, hurtful or beneficial to others, does so depend upon other Rational Beings, that all that Happiness he necessarily seeks, is to be received from their Concurrence, or at least free Permission, as the Reward of past, or Encouragement of future Benevolence”: It follows, “That his Right can be denied to no-one, how weak soever, even in Secret, without so far slighting and lessening the Publick Good, and thereby provoking all who have it truly at heart, (that is, all who are truly Rational in Practical Matters,) to refrain such Invasions of another’s Property by Punishments.” For the Common Good is the only End, in the pursuit whereof all Rational Beings can agree among themselves; because it comprehends the greatest possible Happiness of all; and it is most certain, that only that Practical Reason is true, which discovers to all an End and Means, in which all who make a true Judgment can agree; and that those, therefore, act according to true Practical Reason, who have this End at heart, and make use of the Means necessary thereto. Hence we may conclude, “That the Reason of God, which seeth all Things, and of all truly Rational Men, are upon the watch to discover every Invasion of another’s Right, that is, every Injustice, even out of Civil Society; so that there remains not the least hope of escaping the Knowledge of God, and but very little of deceiving the Sagacity of Man”: And, That, after Wickedness is discover’d, God and Men will neither want the Will nor the Power, toward off the intended Injury, or to punish that which has been committed.”
Not only the External, but Internal, Causes of our Happiness conspire to produce the same End by the same Means, viz. perpetual and universal Benevolence towards all Rational Agents.§XXXI. In a word, the Invader of another’s Right, in that he opposes Reason, conspiring in all to promote the Common Good, forsakes Truth, and so far deprives himself of the innate Beauty of Practical Right Reason; and, by admitting one Practical Error, makes way for innumerable in the same kind; and delivers himself up to the conduct of his blind Passions, among Precipices innumerable. All these Consequences, both because they are Evil, and because they follow the Evil Action in the ordinary course of Nature establish’d by God, are justly called Punishments.
“In every Deliberation concerning our future Actions ’tis necessary to consider, what other Rational Agents will think of them,” because (beside that they form the most noble Class of Beings,) they are the principal and Universal Causes, necessarily and perpetually requisite, of that Happiness which we aim at by Action: For the greatest diligence in procuring the Concurrence of such Causes, is above all and alwaies necessary to every Man, who would provide for his own Happiness according to the Dictates of Reason. I call those Universal Causes, which concur to many Effects, and of other kinds, beside that which is the subject of the present Inquiry. I don’t believe it necessary to be at much pains to shew, “That all the Necessaries to Happiness are dispos’d according to the Will of God and Men”; to procure which, their Concurrence or free Permission is no less requisite, than the rising of the Sun to dispell the darkness of the Night. It may be sufficient to take notice, that, as in the Sciences, those Propositions, which explain the most general Causes or Properties of Things, (the Laws of Motion, or the Properties of Triangles, for Example,) imply no contradiction in particular Cases, tho’ they be there much diversified: So in Practice, the care of procuring the Favour of the Universal Causes, (Rational Agents, suppose, jointly consider’d,) can never be laid aside, much less oppos’d, by him, who in reality and with right Reason pursues their natural Effect, which is his own Happiness: On the contrary, the care of gaining the First and most necessary Causes, prepares the way to, and directs and governs, the use of the Inferior when acquired; as the knowledge of General Truths assists the Judgment of the Skilful in forming Conclusions in all variety of Cases, and continually leads them to farther Discoveries.
The help then of other truly Rational Beings, (that is of God, and such Men as concur in promoting the Common Good,) being thus found to be the most universal external Means to our Happiness (a Means in the first and principal Place and at all Times necessary;) it immediately follows, “That Nothing ought to be committed against any one, secretly or openly, thro’ the whole course of Life, by which we may be depriv’d of this Help; that is, that we ought never to invade another’s Right, but, on the contrary, endeavour by all methods to procure this Assistance perpetually to our-selves.”
It happens likewise most favourably, “That within us nothing can more intimately and abundantly promote our Happiness, than the most enlarged Contemplation and Love of, and Joy in, such Things and Actions as are acceptable to God and such Men, the noblest Objects”: Now all these acts of Justice and Beneficence, by which we endeavour to please both God and Men, are the Effects, the Fruits, of that Universal Benevolence, which I inculcate; which will therefore naturally, by the most powerful Persuasive (that of Benevolent Actions) both implore and obtain the assistance of all Rational Beings; and, consequently, most happily unite the Internal and External Causes of our Happiness, and give rise to Virtue, Religion and Society. This Reason, (by which ’tis asserted, that we should in the first place take care to procure the Favour of the first and principal Causes of the End desired,) is indeed most General, and agreeable to the Rules of Logick, (which are prior to those of Morality;) but does not therefore agree the less with Experience and the natural Order of human Operations, which is sometimes very justly objected against some Logical Subtilties unskilfully applied to Practice.60
Benevolence prov’d the necessary means to Happiness, first, by shewing the Opposite Practice naturally and unavoidably to tend to Misery.§XXXII. To make this appear yet more evident, I will illustrate this whole Matter, by considering, first, the Opposite Case, next a Parallel Case.
To the perpetual pursuit of the Common Good, (by which, to the best of our power, we ingage in our favour the most universal Causes of our Happiness,) is oppos’d every wilful neglect thereof; by this therefore we leave in the hand of God or Men, wholly to take away our Happiness, or to diminish it to such a degree, as to their right Reason shall seem necessary to deter us or others (by way of sufficient Punishment) from a like Neglect.
What is more; he who by a neglect of such Universal Benevolence neglects those Universal Causes, which I have mentioned, of his Happiness, alwaies substitutes others less effectual in their place, perhaps his own Force or Cunning, or the Assistance of a few like himself; hence the Mind forms new Rules of Practice, which do not satisfy, because of their inward Deformity, that is, because they are not equally rational, or fit to produce the End propos’d; and yet perplex and disturb the Mind by their Opposition to the former. They moreover presently beget in us and those that imitate us, a most mischievous off-spring, I mean most restless Passions, and Vices most destructive of Peace, such as Hatred, Envy, Fear, Sorrow, Inhumanity, Pride, &c. which (as is fabled of the Viper’s brood61 ) eat thro’ their Mothers Bowels. For he who perseveres in such measures, brings upon himself certain Destruction, both from within and without; but, if he returns from that to a right Mind, he finds his Happiness so impair’d in both Respects, that he cannot doubt, but that it had been better for him never to have laid aside the Care of the Publick Good. He that comes to himself will certainly take less Comfort (to say no worse) from the Remembrance of his past malevolent Actions: He will have less reason to hope for and expect a future happy Progress; either in the Improvement of his internal Faculties already hurt, (which might have been strengthen’d by constant well-doing,) or in the acqui sition of external Assistances from those he had offended, which he has reason to expect more sparingly for the Future. And these Evils follow necessarily, whether the Offenders will or no, from every wilful Neglect of perpetually soliciting the Favour of God and Man. Wherefore we may conclude, from the Punishment naturally annex’d to this neglect, “That the Duty (of always endeavouring by Benevolence to obtain the Favour of God and Men,)” which I undertook to prove from the consideration of its Opposite, “ought in no case to be omitted.” And even Hobbes himself acknowledges, “That such Evils may be said to be Punishments divinely inflicted, if we acknowledge God the Author of Nature,” Leviath. Chap. 28. in the sixth Consequence, which he has deduc’d from his Definition of Punishment.62
Secondly, by considering a Parallel Case of the Necessity 1. of the moderate Influence of the Sun to Human Life, compar’d to the Divine Favour.§XXXIII. “That the engaging these universal and principal Causes of Human Happiness in our favour, ought to be our principal and perpetual Care, in order to obtain the End desir’d,” remains now to be shewn by the help of an Example, or like Practice in the affairs of Life and Health, which they are very careful of, who disregard Justice and Probity. And this I shall do with this view only, “That the Force and Scope of the foregoing Reasoning may more evidently appear,” for no rational Person will expect a strict Proof in such Comparisons.
All acknowledge the Powers of the Sun and Air to be very great, and absolutely necessary to the Preservation of Human Life. These are those universal Causes, which, beside numberless other Effects, claim in this the principal Share. Yet so, that they require the Concurrence of many other Causes in some sort subordinate; such are a just Temper of our Body, a justly-proportion’d Configuration of its Parts, a healthful Soil, a sufficiency of Nourishment and Cloathing, and mutual Human Assistance, which yet all depend upon those Universal Causes. For the Rays of the Sun do daily produce such Alterations and Dispositions to productions of all kinds, in the Earth, the common Mother of all, in Plants and Animals, which are raised and nourished by her, and in the vital Blood of Man, drawn from the Juices of Plants and Animals, that all, who with moderate Attention search into the Causes of Things, must readily confess the Sun, above any other created Being, the most universal Cause of all those Changes so necessary to Life, which we experience in our-selves. Seeing therefore the Dependence of the Life of Man upon the moderate Influence of the Sun, is in some measure Analogous to the Dependence of Human Happiness upon the Divine Favour; it follows, “That the Necessity of procuring to our-selves God’s Favour by Benevolence or Universal Charity, (which comprehends all, both Religious Worship and Justice,) is taught by the same Reason, that teaches the necessity of inhabiting such Places as enjoy the benefit of the Sun’s Influence.” The same Reason likewise forbids “Rendering our-selves obnoxious to his Wrath by acts of Wickedness,” that forbids “Continuing in such Places, where those Assistances to our innate Heat cannot be had, which here we daily receive from the Sun,” or that teaches us, “To withdraw from those excessive Heats of Climates and Seasons, by which the Sun exhales and dissipates in too great a degree our Blood and vital Spirits.”
2. Of the Air, compar’d to mutual human Offices.§XXXIV. But, leaving this part of the Comparison, as having no occasion to treat at large of Natural Theology, let us proceed to that other Branch of it, which is taken from the Air, which is so necessary to the Life of Man, that from thence I thought it proper to shadow out the Dependence of every particular Person upon the surrounding Multitude of other Men; and I shall insist the longer upon this Comparison, because hence may be illustrated the mutual Offices of Men, which I have chiefly undertaken to explain.
How necessary Air is to the Life of Man, even the Vulgar, from Experience, readily acknowledge; and Philosophers have more plainly demonstrated by instructive Experiments, which they have found out. This has been prov’d by means of Animals endow’d with Blood, which immediately died in the Air-Pump (the Honourable Robert Boyle’s most ingenious Contrivance) upon the Air’s being exhausted.63 Dogs, dissected by the Learned Mr. Hook, testify the same; who after the Aspera Asteria was cut through below the Epiglottis, and the Ribs, Diaphragm and Pericardium were cut away, liv’d above an Hour by the help of fresh Air blown into the Lungs by the help of a pair of Bellows.64 It is therefore certain, in the Judgment of all, that the Air is one of the necessary Causes of Life, and that which is healthful is therefore every where sought; altho’ all its essential Properties, and the Manner of its acting upon us, be not yet fully discover’d. In like Manner (supposing many Men to exist together out of Civil Society, endow’d with natural Powers sufficient to assist, or to hinder one another from enjoying the Necessaries of Life, and consequently Life it-self, which is the soundest Part of Mr. Hobbes’s suppos’d State of Nature;) it is certain, “That they could not live out the Time appointed by Nature, unless they so far at least consented to one another’s Welfare, as to abstain from mutual Harms, and to permit to every one the Use of those Necessaries which Nature has produc’d”: This Agreement therefore is necessary almost in the same Manner as the Use of the Air is to Life, and includes some kind of Benevolence, greater certainly than Hobbes’s State of War; for it both regards the End of Benevolence, and, as it is a voluntary Act about Means naturally fit, regards their Use also. Nay, farther, every one will necessarily consider his own Powers, as able to contribute something to the Happiness of many, and will accordingly apply them to that purpose, when he perceives that by so doing he will not lessen, but rather enlarge his Power, his own Faculties being improv’d by Exercise, and new foreign Assistance gain’d, at least reasonably hop’d for, in Compensation; thus in this Agreement alone will be contain’d, not Innocence only, but Beneficence, which two make up both Tables of Universal Benevolence, and of the Law of Nature.
For this Reason therefore, because such Agreement is necessary to every one, we ought always to endeavour, as much as possible, to obtain it from Men; tho’ we no more understand the inward Constitution of Men, than of the Air; nor can we foresee all that, whether Good, or Harm, which may arise from their Society: As in like Manner we are ignorant, what draught of Air is perfectly Healthful, and which will bring along with it a contagious Distemper; yet we know, that certain Death is the Consequence of Respiration stopt, but that the Continuance thereof is, for the most part, a vast advantage to Life.
Farther; that Universal Influence of other Men upon every Man’s Happiness makes it requisite, “That we should be so diligent in procuring their favour, (wholly neglecting, or willingly provoking, no one) as never to suffer our-selves to be carried off from thence to other Methods of acquiring, and to particular or partial Causes of, Happiness, (for Example, Gain, Glory, or Pleasure;) tho’, in their proper Places,(due regard being had to the most general Causes,) they are not without their Use.” For no Man in his Senses will so throw himself into the Depth of the Sea, in pursuit of those most pretious Treasures, which lie scatter’d here and there, in the Bottom thereof, as to deprive himself of the necessary Use of Air, and, consequently, of Life it self. For they know it to be extremely foolish, to provide for only a few Occasions of Life, and, in the mean while, to neglect the whole of future Happiness, and the necessary Causes thereof, and, consequently, Life it-self. Wherefore, the same Reason, which instructs us to direct our Organs of Respiration, (which, in some measure, may be obstructed or excited at the command of our Will,) and the other voluntary Motions of our Body, that we may always, as far as in us lies, enjoy the Use of wholesome Air, will also teach us to regulate all our inward Affections, and outward Actions, that regard other Men, with that Humanity,65 that, to the utmost of our Power, we may cause them all to entertain and refresh us with their Benevolence, so Necessary to our Happiness.
We are cautious, not to fill the Air of our Houses with noxious Steams and Vapours, but especially, that this perpetual Nourishment, both of our own Lives and that of others, may not be corrupted with Pestilential or other contagious Effluvia; which is a faint Resemblance of Innocence, and teaches the necessity thereof in all our Actions.
The Air, which we have drawn into our Lungs, we immediately breathe back again; or, if a small Portion thereof be retain’d for some little time, for the refreshing our Blood and vital Spirits, it is afterwards, along with the Blood it-self and vital Spirits, as it were with Interest, restor’d by insensible Perspiration to the common Mass of Air; this reciprocal Natural Motion, which is intermixt with some what Voluntary, thus resembles Gratitude, and points out its Necessity for the Good of the Whole.
And because, not only everyone’s Blood and vital Spirits are nourished by this Air, but that also a procreative Juice, subservient to the Continuation of the Species, is thence perfected by Organs appointed by Nature to that End, a limited care of our-selves and our Posterity, is by the same Method pointed out.
Moreover; because the Powers of Man, recruited by Respiration, are naturally applicable to the Common Use of All;66 and the Air it self, which we breathe back out of our Lungs, is restor’d for the Common Good of All; we, by Respiration, shadow out some slight touches of Humanity. But this natural Action, so far as it is a Motion merely Mechanical, perform’d by Brutes and Men asleep, is only a mere Shadow of these Virtues: Yet this Shadow exactly represents all the particular Branches of Living-Virtue, and their mutual Connexion, with their Real Motions, or Effects; which will appear evidently to those, who compare what I have now said, with what I had before advanc’d concerning Actions necessary to the Common Good: And they will moreover be of opinion, that Virtue is nothing but an habitual Will to obey the Laws of Nature, which injoins Actions necessary to that End. But so far as Respiration itself, and other Acts common to Brutes, are guided in Man by Reason, if they are perform’d with a perpetual regard to the noblest End, the Common Good of the Kingdom of God, in which is included the Honour of God the Governor, and the Happiness of Men his Subjects, then at length these Actions become true Virtues; as Feasts and Fasts become religious Exercises, when they are observ’d to religious Purposes.
Finally; not to be tedious in pursuing this Comparison, I will add this only, in which there seems to be a farther mutual Correspondence between them. “Altho’ the mutual Benevolence of Men and the free Use of the Air be General and Necessary Causes, the one of Life, the other of Happiness; yet neither is the Total, or” (to use a School-term) “the Adequate, Cause of the Effect;67 for many things beside are requisite to secure Life and Happiness, but nothing that can exclude these Causes; also the determinate Influence of neither to produce the desir’d Effect, is throughly known, and neither is intirely in the Power of those who need them”: Hence it is, that having taken all possible care about them, we are not therefore certain of obtaining the desir’d Effect, without the Concurrence of other Causes, which are not in our Power to influence. Yet this ought not to deter any one from the Pursuit of Virtue, or Universal Benevolence; because we see, that a Reason, in all respects alike, persuades no one to throw away the Care of breathing wholesome Air, and betake himself to places infected with such a deadly pestilential Contagion, that not one of a Million can escape thence with safety. Such an infected Air were like a State of War of each against all; and such a State necessarily follows, wheresoever the Common Good is not taken for the Rule of Action, but every one proposes to himself his own Good only, as the End of all his own Actions, and the Measure of all other Mens.
(The Evils which happen to the Good, prove only all Degrees of Happiness not to be in our Power, whereas all that are, are to be obtain’d by Virtue only.)This only can be inferr’d from those Evils, which sometimes happen to the Followers of Virtue, “That all degrees of Happiness cannot always be obtain’d by our whole Power, even when perfectly regulated by the best Moral Precepts.” It is, however, certain, “That by obeying them we shall do every thing that is in our Power, to procure the Happiness of Life,” which is all that Morality, or practical right Reason, undertakes to perform. And hence we shall reap this Advantage, “That we shall most surely escape numberless Calamities, which many bring upon themselves by their Vices, and by Patience surmount those we cannot avoid.” Mean-while we enjoy a sound and serene Mind in Fortitude and Tranquillity, which, thro’ a most pleasing Reflexion upon good Actions, will render us Happy in present Joy, and the Hope of a future Reward. Whereas, on the contrary, they who, neglecting the Pursuit of the Common Good, slight the Favour of God and Men, in neglecting the principal Causes upon which, both their Being and Happiness necessarily depend, wittingly undermine the Foundations of their own Happiness, and convert that Friendship, which they themselves know to be necessary to them, into most deserved Hatred. Whence they must unavoidably dread Punishment, and when they perceive inevitable Evils coming upon them, acknowledge themselves the Authors of their own Calamities, and upbraid themselves with most shameful Folly, that they would live to themselves alone, who were by no means self-sufficient.
From hence inferr’d, That we can never, with impunity, neglect God or Men in our pursuit of Happiness.§XXXV. I have thus far treated of these Things, only to shew; “That the most useful Precept concerning Method, That we ought to form Conclusions Universal, as well as True, concerning Universals,68 takes place also in the Rules of Human Practice,” (which lay down the Art of procuring Happiness;) “and that, therefore, the Universal Causes thereof” (God, and Men, or the Aid of Rational Agents) “ought universally to be regarded, and their Favour sought, at all times, in every place, &c. never wholly neglected, much less provoked; which will certainly be the Case, if in any Circumstances, tho’ in private, or but seldom, any thing be committed in prejudice of the Publick Good.” The Pleasure in Vice is but of momentary Duration; but Injuries committed against God, or Men, endure for ever. Tenacious is the Memory of the Sinner himself, which both upbraids him with his Crime, and often betrays him against his Will: Tenacious also is the Memory of those, whom the Infringer of the Publick Good has offended; which, if there be no present opportunity, may minister to future Revenge, or commit the Retaliation to late Posterity. But above all, God is not forgetful of Crimes, even when he defers Punishment. From these Considerations, and others, which are obvious to every one, we may conclude, “That Reason, duly considering all the necessary Causes of Human Happiness, can never pronounce, That any Thing can be committed against the Common Good by any one, without lessening those Causes, and, consequently, destroying some part of his own Happiness.”
Let us now shew, “That from the foresight of this Penalty on the one hand, and a probable Expectation of Retribution on the other, Men may know their Obligation to do nothing prejudicial to the Common Good; but, on the contrary, to endeavour to deserve the Favour of Others by all kind of Benevolence.” Whence will be deduced their Obligation to exercise all Acts of Virtue, (which are only Universal Benevolence variously diversified;) and to shun all Vices, whose Nature cannot be unknown, when the Virtues are known. For, since the avoiding such Punishments, and the obtaining such Rewards, are contained in the essential Idea of that Happiness Nature lays us under the necessity of seeking; as being a Collection of every Good, which we can obtain: All acknowledge, that Motives, or Arguments to inforce the Observance of Laws, may be drawn from hence. But the intrinsick Force69of all those Arguments, with which the Legislator (God) uses to enforce Universal Benevolence, is, in my opinion, all that is meant by the Obligation of Laws: The Rewards annext to Universal Benevolence by the right Reason of Men, chiefly oblige, because they promise, beside the Favour of Man, the Friendship of the Chief of Rational Beings, God, the Supreme Governour of the World. The Punishments they inflict by the same Reason, are both Parts of the present, and most certain presages of the future, Divine Vengeance. For Right Reason in God cannot differ from the same in Men: Which that saying of Cicero (1. de Legibus) shews to have been well enough known by the Light of Nature, where he thus expresses himself with respect to God, “That to whom Reason is common, Right Reason is common.”70 Nor can I conceive any thing, which could bind the Mind of Man with any Necessity, (in which Justinian’s Definition places the Force of Obligation,71 ) except Arguments proving, that Good or Evil will proceed from our Actions; of which since the greatest is the Favour or the Wrath of God, their Connexion with our Actions sufficiently shews, what it is which his Authority commands, where in consists the true Nature of Obligation.
It is however necessary to remember, “That all those things, Good or Evil, which, at the Divine Appointment, are evidently connected, in the Nature of Things, with such free Actions as respect either the Common Good or Hurt, are to be esteem’d Rewards, or Punishments”: Whether that Connexion be immediate, as when any Action, honourable to God, or beneficial to Men, is perform’d, it carries with it its own Reward, by that inward Pleasure, which every one experiences upon such occasions: (Let us take, for Instance, useful Contemplations, or Acts of Love towards God, or Man; or, on the other hand, Envious, Wrathful, or Malicious Dispositions, which are immediately connected with uneasiness and anxiety of Mind:) Or, if the Connexion be not immediate, when a Series of Causes, whether necessary, or free, intervenes between our Actions and the Good, or Evil, that follows them; thus, by the appointment of Rational Beings, (God or Men,) are Positive Rewards or Punishments connected with human Actions. That God will distribute such after this Life, the natural Reason, even of those who wish the contrary, is throughly sensible.
But it ought to be our principal Care, “Not to take our measure of the Sanction of the Law of Nature, only from the outward and contingent Rewards and Punishments of this Life.” For this would be, to neglect the greatest Evidences of its Obligation, whence the step would be easy, to slight the Law it-self; and, if we did any good, only from the Hope or Fear of these Advantages or Disadvantages, it were the sign of an abject and mercenary Spirit. But, if you seek also that internal Reward with which the Mind is bless’d, and the everlasting Favour of God, while you co-operate with him in promoting the Publick Good; there can never be hence wanting to you a sufficient Spur to Virtue, and you shall avoid all Suspicion of Mean-Spiritedness.
These following are certainly honourable Rewards, always connected with the Practice of Virtue.
1. A fuller Knowledge of God and Men, the most noble Causes, not of your Happiness alone, but of the Common Happiness of all Rational Beings. And whilst you study to do things acceptable to God and Men, upon whom we depend, you will perceive, that you draw every Virtue from the Sourses of the Being, Preservation, and Perfection of Human Nature, which can never be exhausted.
2. The Conformity of our Nature with the Divine, consisting in an imitation of the Divine Goodness, conspicuous in his Providence over all his Subjects.
3. The Dominion of your Reason over your Passions, and all your voluntary Motions. It is hence evident, that Piety and Justice,(which consist in what I have been just laying down,) their Improvements and immediate Effects, (that Joy and Tranquillity, which arise from an inward Sense of them,) are the principal Part of the Reward of Virtue. Thus may the Opinion of the Stoicks and others, who would have Virtue sought for its own sake, be reconcil’d to Truth.72 For this Reward I acknowledge to be so intimately connected with it, as to be inseparable from it by any Misfortune whatsoever. But, because this Reward may be distinguish’d, in Thought at least, from Virtue, and is proper to it, and may be foreseen as a Reward, it seem’d necessary to consider it under the Notion of a Sanction annex’d to that Practical Dictate of Reason, which prescribes the Pursuit of the Common Good, (or the Practice of all manner of Virtues;) and by this particular Mark this Dictate is distinguish’d from all other Practical ones, which are true indeed, but not necessary to be observ’d by all. Such are the Propositions about the Solution of Arithmetical and Geometrical Problems, which are not Universal Laws, because they want such a Sanction. For a Law is a practical Proposition concerningthe Prosecution of the Common Good, guarded by the Sanction of Rewards and Punishments.
Lastly, The Reader may observe, That I do not deduce the Obligation of Laws, from this kind of Sanction, (I have assign’d, another efficient Cause, another End, far greater;73 ) I explain only that part of the Definition, which affects the Necessity of such pursuit of the Common Good, in order to the Private Happiness of every particular Person; from which Necessity it is, that Actions commanded by the Laws are calld Necessary. An absolute Necessity cannot here be understood, such as is in Mechanical Motions, but relative and upon supposition, with respect to some effect, if we would produce it. In that most Universal Law, which I chiefly consider, concerning the pursuit of the most General Good, the Honour of God join’d with the Happiness of Men, it is evident, that the Action commanded, is not necessary to any superior or greater Effect, since no such there either is, or can be. It is also manifest, that, if this Pursuit be said to be necessary to the producing this very Effect, the Proposition will be Identical,74 and will propose no incitement to Action; therefore the Pursuit or Production of this Effect (as far as we are able) is to be look’d on as necessary to some lesser Effect thence depending; that is, in order to procure, by the Assistance of all Causes, our own Happiness, which we are justly suppos’d to desire. The Proposition, understood so, does most powerfully excite to Action. However, I most readily acknowledge, that, after this Obligation is made known to us from the Effects, as above, it is much confirm’d by considering the Efficient Cause from which I have deduc’d it, that is the Will of the First Cause. For it is thence certain, both that the infinite Wisdom of God has approv’d of those Laws and their Sanction, and that all the Divine Perfections conspire to the same Effect. For there can never be any Disagreement between the Will of God and his other Perfections. Wherefore, these all will encourage Men to hope for greater Rewards, and will afford sure Presages of greater Punishments, to confirm the Sanction of these Laws, and the necessity of Obedience.
The Cause of Mens not observing the Laws of Nature;The Original, as well of all Ignorance about the Law of Nature, as of Negligence in observing them, seems to me to be this, “That most Men do not sufficiently consider, either what are the genuine Parts of their own and others Happiness, and what Proportion there may be between them, so as to understand, which contains in it more, which less, Good; or that afterwards they do not consider their genuine Causes, and which Cause contributes more, and which less, to this End, or Effect.” Hobbes’s Principles, according to which he thinks Men should govern themselves in the State of Nature, are faulty in both respects, both, because they propose an End too mean, the Preservation of Life and Limbs, neglecting the Perfections of the Mind, and hope of Immortality: And, because he alledges, “That the Power of Rational Causes (God and Men) to restrain all Invasion of Right, is ineffectual, without the Declaration of the supreme Civil Authority.” Whereas, tho’ I willingly acknowledge, that they are much strengthen’d by Civil Society, yet I affirm, “That, supposing no Civil Government were erected, there is no necessity to pursue our own Happiness, by first invading others, either by Force or Fraud, that is, by entering into a State of War; but that there is reason abundantly sufficient, arising from the Nature of God and Men, why we should rather be desirous to solicit all Rational Beings, by Universal Benevolence, and, consequently, by all manner of Virtue, to Peace, Benevolence, and lastly, to Society, both Civil and Sacred.”
Two Objections against the foregoing Notion of Moral Obligation, propos’d.§XXXVI. Having explain’d, as briefly as I could, the Substance of my Opinion, concerning the Nature and Original of Natural Obligation, I thought it necessary to obviate two Scruples, which might disturb Minds of the better sort. 1. That the Punishments of Vice seem uncertain, and the Rewards of Virtue not well enough known, so as to be sufficient Declarations of Natural Obligation, and the Will of the First Cause. 2. That according to this Opinion it might seem, that the Common Good is postpon’d and subordinate to the Private Happiness of every particular Person.75 I shall shew, that my Opinion is liable to neither of these Objections.
Object. I. The Rewards and Punishments of the Law of Nature are too uncertain.As to the First, which suggests the Uncertainty of the Connexion of Rewards and Punishments with Actions publickly useful or hurtful, I make the following Reply. Let us begin with the Connexion of Punishment with Wickedness, of which we shall treat more at large, because it is the more difficult affair, and what respects the Reward of good Actions may thence be easily judg’d of.
Answer. Not so; The Punishments not uncertain, for(1.) Altho’ some wicked Actions may escape some kind of Punishment, that is, such as is inflicted by Man, yet even these Crimes do not wholly go unpunished; and, therefore, there is not wanting an Obligation arising from the consideration of this Punishment, which cannot be avoided. For it is impossible to separate from the Crime all degrees of Anxiety of Mind, arising from the struggle between the so under Dictates of Reason, which enforce our Duty,1. Struggles of Conscience, Fears of Divine and Human Punishment, Greater Corruption, Tortures of Envy and Malice, are Unavoidable Punishments of Wickedness. and those rash Follies which hurry Men on to Wickedness: There likewise ensue Fears (which cause present Grief) of Vengeance, both Divine and Human, and an Inclination to the same Crimes, or even worse; which, because it hurts the Faculties of the Mind, seems to me that it ought to be also reckon’d among Punishments: Even the very Malice and Envy, which are essential to every Invasion of another’s Right, do necessarily and naturally torture every malevolent Mind; and so the wicked Man drinks deep of the poyson’d Draught of his own Mixture.76
(2.) Whoever will prudently consider, what he has done, or is about to do, to the Prejudice of others, must of necessity consider and estimate those Punishments,II. The Expectation of contingent Evils is equal to a present Evil, and may therefore in Reason be esteem’d a certain Punishment; for the Mind of Man cannot avoid expecting many contingent Evils, as Consequences of his Evil Actions; for which are not the certain, but the contingent only and probable, Consequences of bad Actions. Seeing therefore I have already prov’d, “That the Chance of a future contingent Evil is of a determinate present Value”; it follows, “That such Evil, (which, in as much as it may be inflicted with the Approbation, at least, of the Supreme Governour of the World, is to be look’d upon as a Divine Punishment,) is an Argument made use of by Him, to persuade his Subjects, not to expose themselves to so great Danger, for the sake of any Advantage, which may accrue from injuring another; and, therefore, certainly obliges all those, who weigh, as Reason directs, every Impediment of their Happiness.” This Consequence is sufficiently plain, from what I have already laid down, concerning the nature of Obligation.
I am now briefly to shew, “That the Consider ation of Human Actions hurtful to other Rational Beings, necessarily leads the Mind of Man to the Prospect of great Danger from that Punishment, which there is the greatest reason imaginable to fear, tho’ we cannot certainly foresee, what the Event will be.” This will be evident from what follows.
In the first place it is manifest, “That all Human Actions hurtful to others, as such, have in them the Force of a meritorious Cause, sufficient to incite every other Rational Agent,(1.) they deserve, and incite to, Punishment. those especially who have been Sufferers by them, to restrain by Punishments, to the utmost of their Power, those who have injur’d other innocent Persons.” This inciting, impulsive, Force is not Fictitious and Imaginary, but altogether as Real, as any Impulse from external Objects upon our Senses. I confess, this impulsive Force alone is not sufficient to inflict Punishment on the Off enders, and, therefore, Punishment does not always follow such Incitement, such Provocation to it: But, because whoever would act reasonably, must consider the Force, and all the Effects of his Actions, but principally, how far they may influence other Rational Beings, in defence of the Common Good, to punish, or not, I thought fit to make this Observation. Desert is justly reckon’d among, and joined with, partial, assisting Causes, such as Invitation of Objects, the Temptation of Opportunity, the Authority of an Adviser, or Persuader; and, therefore, ought not to be neglected, because our Mind is hence led to consider, “That the Efficacy of our own Actions may be join’d with that of many other Causes, in the Production of great Effects, which could not be hoped for, from any or all of those Causes, singly or separately consider’d.” And for this Reason that Paradox, which I just now advanc’d, is most true, “That whoever will consider, in such manner as Prudence directs, our noxious Actions, must, of necessity, take into consideration those probable Punishments, which the Concurrence of external Causes renders not necessary indeed, only contingent.” It is certain, that by Innocence we shall not pull Mischief down upon our own head: By Injuries we give being, at least to one, and that the first Cause of our Destruction;77 we lay down a Motive, an Incitement, to others to contribute to that Effect. And how probable their Concurrence is, we may conclude from what follows. I must first add a few Remarks concerning other Effects of wicked Actions, which render their Punishment more certain.
(2.) They are infinitely Productive of other evil Actions, prejudicial to both Publick and Private Happiness.§XXXVII. It is in the second place certain, “That every Action proceeding from Malevolence towards others, has a natural endless Tendency to produce other Malevolent Actions of the like kind, thwarting the Common Happiness, and consequently diminishing that of the Malevolent Person himself,” (which upon many accounts depends upon the Common Good:) Partly, because it paves the way to evil Habits, and a corruption of Manners: Partly, because it lays him under a sort of Necessity, to defend one Wickedness by another; what is begun by Fraud and Covertly, comes to be finish’d by Force and open Violence: Partly also, because the contagious Example infects others far and wide. And it is evident, “That, the more Malevolence gains ground, the more openly all things tend to a State of War, which is but too productive of severe Punishments, and threatens Destruction, not less certain to the Leader in Wickedness, than dreadful to all.”
(Mr. Hobbes’s Acknowledgment of the Calamities consequent from his State of War, employ’d to overturn his Method of deducing the Laws of Nature.)Altho’, therefore, the Fear of a War of each against all, on all sides Just, be wholly Vain, as being what, I have already prov’d, can never happen; yet any One, suppos’d to live out of Civil Society, may with the greatest reason fear to raise up by his own Wickedness, and unite against himself in a just War, the Forces of many, either to preserve their own Property, or to take Vengeance for Injuries offered. He may also fear the overwhelming his Confederates with himself, (if perhaps he has drawn over many to his Defense,) in the Calamities of an unjust War. Nay, if he chances to come off Conqueror, which is more than he had reason to expect from the Justice of his Cause, he has reason to fear, lest his prosperous Wickedness stir up Others, in hopes of the like Success, in like manner to invade his Rights. We may most evidently perceive, both from the consideration of Human Nature, and from the observation of those things which pass daily among bordering Nations, that Wars may draw their Original from such like Causes as these. It is likewise evident, that these Wars are no less prejudicial to the preservation of particular Persons, than if they owed their Original to Hobbes’s fictitious Right of every Man to every Thing. Wherefore, when he contends, “That the Calamities of his State of War affords, not only a sufficient, but a necessary, Reason, to incline all Men every where, laying down the Arms they had taken up, to submit themselves to Absolute Government, and to whatever Laws their Governours please to impose upon them”;78 he will be inconsistent with him-self, if he will not allow, from a Parity of Reason, “That a Prospect of a War no less dangerous, which may arise from the Invasion of the Rights of Others, or from any kind of Wickedness, may be a sufficient Motive to the same Men, to abstain from unjust Actions, or such as oppose the Common Good, and mutually to cultivate, from the beginning, Peace, and all its friendly Offices, towards one another; and, consequently, never to attempt that War, which he dreams of, of each against all.” For it is a most evident Dictate of right Reason, “That the same Evils of War, certainly foreseen, are sufficient to deter Men from entering into War, which are able to dissuade them from continuing War already begun.”
If “These pernicious Effects of unjust Actions, which recoil upon the guilty Person, are understood to be necessarily connected with the Guilt, by Virtue of that Order among all Things, which the First Cause, and Supreme Governour of the World has appointed,” they are justly to be look’d upon as Punishments appointed by God. And “That Proposition, which, according to the determination of the Nature of Things, (and consequently of the Author of Nature,) pronounces that Action, not to be Good, or Eligible, which at once both hurts Others, and pulls down Mischief upon our own head,” will be a Law of Nature, sufficiently discoveringit-self to be such by these Characters, 1. That the subject Matter thereof are Actions of Publick Mischief or Advantage (the proper Subject of Laws); 2. That it has a Sanction, a Punishment, annex’d by the Supreme Governour of the World.
I agree with Hobbes, “That the Prospect of the Evils of War may conduce much, to the causing Men mutually to perform toward one another the Offices of Peace, by the exercise of all kinds of Virtues”; but I do not allow, as he has done (de Cive, C. 1. §. 10.) “That every Man has a Right of waging War, in order to support his Claim to every Thing.”79 I consider only the Possibility and the Consequences of a War, just on one side, unjust on the other. Before I would venture to affirm any thing, concerning the Right to do any Action, especially to wage War, I first consider, what Things are necessary to necessary Ends, and thereby settle the Nature of Property: I acknowledge the Nature of Things has immutably determin’d, what Things are necessary: I have shewn, “That, not those Things only are naturally determin’d, which are necessary to particular Persons singly considered, but those also, which are necessary to many, or even to all, jointly consider’d”: Moreover, I have by the way demonstrated, “That those Propositions which truly, that is, agreeably to the determination of Nature, declare, what kind of Human Actions are necessary to the Common Good of Mankind, and what are inconsistent with that End, are Laws of Nature”; I have collected the Sum of them into one general Proposition, and have reduc’d to a few Heads the particular Precepts enjoined thereby; and, in these particulars, I have sufficiently differ’d from Hobbes. And now, when I treat of Obligation, which is the proper Effect of Laws, and becomes known to our Senses by the Rewards and Punishments consequent upon the Observance and Violation of those Laws, and is, therefore, a proper Evidence, that they are Laws; I may assume what Hobbes himself has with reason granted, provided I take care to avoid the many Errors he has intermixt therewith. But that I have sufficiently taken care of, both by what I have but now said, and by maintaining, “That this just War, of which I now treat, is the Effect of the Laws of Nature, and of the Nature of Rational Agents acquainted with those Laws, which, in order to defend Themselves and their Property, and to restrain Aggressors, will have recourse to Arms, which are therefore just, because they are in this Case necessary Means to the Common Good.” Whereas Mr. Hobbes supposes, “A War just on all Sides, both of the Invader and Resister, before the Laws of Nature, upon which Justice is founded, are established; their business being,” as he endeavours to prove, “To propose the Means necessary to avoid this War, which,” according to his Doctrine, “Is at the same time just on all Sides, and destructive to All.”80 But of this elsewhere.
He, who, by invading another’s Property, commences an unjust War, has no Prospect of any Advantage equal to Life, the Loss of which he hazards in the Quarrel.§XXXVIII. It is sufficient for our present Purpose, what, I believe, no Man in his wits will deny, “That any Invasion of another’s Property does naturally tend much to the stirring up Strife and kindling War”: And, “That right Reason dictates this to every Man, that greater Damage is to be apprehended from this open’d Sluice of all Evils, than can be compensated by the hope of the trifling Advantage, which can be procur’d by the Injury, especially in that State, where no Civil Government is suppos’d, which might restrain Anger and Revenge within some bounds; and where one Contention may breed others without end; and the least Strife may bring Life in danger.” It is most certain, “That as soon as a Duel is commenc’d upon an equal foot, where each of the two has an equal Hazard of Life and Death, the Hope of the Life of each becomes but of half its former Value.” As if any One should hold close twenty Shillings in one Hand, in the other, nothing; and should give his Choice to a Person ignorant of what was done, to take what was contain’d in which Hand he pleas’d; it is certain, that such a Gift, or the Hope there of, before the Choice made, is worth ten Shillings, that is, half the whole Sum exposed to Hazard, which in this Case is, as it were, in an even uncertain Balance. And, for this reason, it is likewise certain, “That Reason, rightly weighing Things, would not permit any One to throw his Life into such Hazard,” (altho’ our Lives were as much at our own disposal, as the Money in our pockets,) “Except for the Gain of that, the uncertain Hope whereof is equal to half the Value of our Life”; or, which comes to the same thing, “For the sake of that, whose certain Gain is worth the certain Loss of Life.” The Invader of another’s Property has scarce a certainty of gaining any thing to compensate so great a Hazard, so great a Loss. The Life of the Conquered vanishes into Air, wholly useless to the Conqueror. Those Goods, which, because they were really necessary to him he called his, will not be in like manner necessary to the Conqueror, nor will they therefore, in this State, become his Property. For I justly suppose, “In a State where all Things are in Common, both that Nature has liberally afforded as much as is necessary to every particular Person, where human Industry has not been wanting, and that those Things which are truly necessary to any one, are not likewise necessary to any other.” The latter is a Consequence of the former. But the certain Acquisition of those Things, which before were not, nor do now become, necessary by the Death of the conquer’d Person, is not of so great Value, as that it ought to be purchas’d by the certain Loss of Life. But, after the Victory, in that State of Community which Hobbes supposes, they will still remain Common to all; so that, beside the Hazard of Revenge which may be taken by Others, there accrues nothing to the Conqueror.
(Hobbes’s Prospect of Security by preventing others by Force or Fraud, in a State of Nature, is absurd.)That Security, which, according to Hobbes, is gain’d, in this State, by preventing others, either by Force or Fraud, is either of no Value, or, at least, not of so great.81 For, in our Deliberation, whether we shall invade others, and give them a just Cause of War, or no, they are of necessity suppos’d Innocent, and such as would not take Arms, unless they were forced by an Attempt to deprive them of Necessaries, or, at least, have not as yet had recourse to Arms: But, where there is no reason for Fear, Security ought not to be purchas’d at the Hazard of Life. Much less would any Man in his senses think a War against all, a way to secure himself.
In this Inquiry, concerning the Obligation of the Laws of Nature, and the Prospect of Punishments to be apprehended from violating them by Invasion of another’s Right, I have affirm’d Men are necessarily suppos’d Innocent: both, because we allow, that it is lawful to punish the Guilty by the Loss of Goods, or of Life it-self; and, because it is a mad Rashness to suppose Men, who have shew’d no Signs of Malevolence towards us, entertain a Will to hurt us, and, for that reason, either by Force, or Fraud, to set upon and kill them, that we may be secure from them, which yet is the Sum of Natural Right, according to Hobbes; and also, because I think it may be collected from Hobbes’s Hypothesis, tho’ he often contradicts it. For he supposes, in his State of Nature, several Persons as rais’d out of the Earth at the same Time, and of full Growth, C. 8. §. 1.82 I ask, Does right Reason dictate to these, as soon as they come in sight of one another, that they should mutually cultivate the Offices of Peace, that is, behave themselves Benevolently, Faithfully, and Gratefully; or that they should rather rush into a War of every Man against every Man? Is their State, when they have not as yet done, or determin’d to do, to one another, either Good or Harm, that of Peace or War? I affirm it to be Peace, and that all Men are as yet to be look’d upon as Innocent, and that Reason dictates, that they should preserve this Peace, by trusting others, and faithfully discharging the Trust that is repos’d in themselves, by Gratitude and Beneficence in their external Actions: And that, partly, because such Actions are in their own Nature most pleasant, and in some measure bring their own Reward along with them; whereas the contrary Actions, as they are necessarily accompanied with Hatred and Envy, so they are inseparable from Grief, which is essentially connected with those Affections; which was my first Reason:83Partly, because whoever is Malevolent towards others, and denies to them their reasonable Demands, hazards the engaging himself in a War, whose Consequences, I am sure, are very Penal; which is my second Reason,84 which I now handle. What is more, since Hobbes acknowledges, that it is the first Law of Nature in the State of Nature, “That Peace is to be sought after”;85 and likewise teaches, “That Right is natural Liberty left by the Laws,”86 it necessarily follows, “That Man in this State has no Right to act contrary to the Law of Nature, by rushing into War, before it appears, that he cannot enjoy Peace; or by arrogating to himself a Right to all Things, since the Law of Nature forbids a Man to exercise such a Right, even tho’ he were supposed once to have had it,” both which Hobbes hath taught.87 His Subterfuge, sought from thence, “That these Laws do not oblige to external Acts for want of Security,” is elsewhere by me examin’d;88 here I affirm only thus much, “That they have no obligatory Force, and, consequently, that they have nothing in them of the Nature of Laws, if they respect not external Actions.” Because it is impossible to cultivate Peace with others, or to depart from one’s Right, by any internal Action; for these are transient Actions in their own Nature, that is, they have a relation to Men without us. But, if he answer, “That these are improperly call’d Laws,” as he insinuates (De Cive. C. 3. §. 33.) I thus reply, “That those Arguments which I have already advanc’d, and which I shall presently offer, do prove them properly Laws.” However, with respect to Hobbes, this is a necessary Consequence; if there be no Laws, properly so called, in a State of Nature, there are no Rights, properly so called; hence this Right, suppos’d by him, of every Man to every Thing, and to wage War with all, are improperly Rights, and improper Foundations of Morality and Politicks. For they are not more properly Rights, than they are the Concessions of Laws properly so call’d; nor are there any other Laws in that State, beside those of Nature. Wherefore, if the Laws of Nature are not properly Laws, neither are the Rights of Nature properly Rights;89 and Hobbes, when he lays these down as the Principles of Moral Philosophy and Politicks, is but improperly a Philosopher, improperly a Polititian; and all these Conclusions, which depend upon these Premises, and which Hobbes would pass upon the World for strict Demonstrations, are but improperly demonstrated.
3. Reason inclines God and Men to punish all Acts of Malevolence.§XXXIX. But these Contradictions are tedious. Let us, therefore, proceed to the third Reason, on account whereof the Transgressors of the Laws of Nature may justly fear Punishment. This is taken from that Rational Nature, which is common to God with Men, and which is the immediate Cause of inflicting Punishment: Of which thus much is certain, whence every Man cannot but presage to himself what will follow.
It is certain, “That right Reason (and consequently the Divine) declares it to be a necessary Means in order to the Common Good, that Punishments be appointed to such Human Actions as are inconsistent with it, the Sharpness and reasonable Fear of which may restrain the Malevolent.” Whence it is manifest, “That right Reason licenses the punishing such, and that they are, therefore, liable to Punishment, whensoever others have it in their Inclination and Power to inflict it.”
It is, moreover, certain, “That all who have the Common Good at heart” (in the Number of which are God and all good Men), “and all beside, whose Interest it is, that no-one’s Rights should be invaded” (under which are compriz’d almost all, even bad, Men), “are actually willing to inflict Punishments upon those, whom they have found, either to have perpetrated such Actions, or even to have discover’d an Inclination to have perpetrated them.”
What is more; altho’ the Will, both of God and Men, sometimes leaves room for Pardon, it is, nevertheless, certain, “That Reason so far every where takes place, with respect to the Common Good,” (because it is every one’s Interest, that it should be sufficiently secur’d,)“that there should never be given so great Incouragement to hope for Pardon, but that it may appear plainly, that it were better, not to transgress, and not to stand in need of Pardon.” For the Reason of all does inviolably require, “That such Actions as are inconsistent with the Common Good of all, should be guarded against by such Punishments as are sufficient to secure it, and that no Punishments are sufficient, if there remains a greater Probability of Pardon than Punishment.”90 Hence Reason dictates it as necessary, “That all hope of escaping Punishment should be much outweigh’d, partly by the frequency of the Punishments, partly by their sharpness”: For a small Difference between the causes of Fear and Hope will be scarcely discernible. It is necessary, “That the prospect of Impunity should be taken away, rather by the frequency than the sharpness of such Punishments as are actually inflicted”: Because, by this Method, a proportion between Crimes and their Punishments will be better observ’d, and there will be no room left for that Complaint, “That the Punishments of some are unjustly enhanc’d, on purpose that others, guilty of the like Crimes, should escape unpunish’d”: Lastly, because nothing can be inflicted by Man beyond Death; but Death, tho’ it were certain, seems not to me to be a sufficient Punishment for their Crimes, who have bereav’d of Life many, or such as were greatly serviceable to the Publick, and have, beside, put them to horrid tortures: Common Reason would forsake its office, that is, would act contrary to Reason, if it should neglect such things; and Men, unless they punish’d them, would, by the prospect of Advantage arising from unpunish’d Crimes, as it were hire the Wicked to injure them.
But, if it be doubted, not whether Rational Agents will, but whether they can, apprehend and punish those that transgress against the Common Good, it immediately occurs, “That nothing can shun the Divine Knowledge and Power.” Nor is it to be doubted, but that the Will of God inclines to do that, which right, and consequently, the Divine Reason has determin’d to be necessary to the chief End.
It were easy to prove, with respect to Men, whilst they are consider’d as out of a State of Civil Society, in a State of Equality, according to Hobbes’s Hypothesis, since in that case none could claim a Property except in things necessary to him-self,91 “That there would be room for fewer Crimes, and that they could be more easily discover’d, and punish’d without difficulty; especially, if several should mutually agree to restrain the Malevolent, whose Wickedness would, in this case, be look’d upon as equally dangerous to all.”
Since, therefore, it is the Interest of all, that they who oppose the Common Good, by violating the Laws of Nature, should be punish’d; since Nature has endow’d Men with an eminent Sagacity, beyond other Animals, by which they may discover latent Criminals; and does also strongly spur on all with a desire of Glory, (of which other Animals are insensible,) to restrain the common Enemies; then are there the greatest Reasons to fear Punishments, and but very small Hope of avoiding them.
Neither are the Rewards, or positive Advantages of pursuing the Common Good, uncertain.§XL. I am weary with insisting so long upon the Proofs of Obligation, taken from Punishment or the Hazard thereof; especially, because those Advantages or Rewards, which are connected with the pursuit of the Common Happiness, (altho’ they are not generally reckon’d among the essential Ingredients of a Law, and Proofs of Obligation;) yet to me seem clearer and prior Proofs of the Divine Will, than the Punishments most certainly consequent upon the contrary; and these come now under our Consideration. I suppose here, as before, “That all Connexion or Concatenation between Causes and their Effects, in Nature, proceeds from the Will of the First Cause.” For the same Reason, which proves the Things themselves to have been made by a First Cause, demonstrates all the Order or natural Connexion among them, to proceed from the same Cause. For which Reason, even here, where it is disputed, “whether it is the Will of the First Cause or no, to govern the World by the Practical Dictates of Reason, or Natural Laws,” it may be taken for granted, “That both the good and bad Effects of Human Actions are always in consequence of the Will of the First Cause.”
This prov’d by shewing, 1. That greater Advantages follow Virtue, than what can, with Reason, be expected from the contrary Practice.Two things are here briefly to be consider’d. I am to prove from the known Order of Nature, 1. “That Advantages follow such Actions, and those so great, that we cannot with reason hope for equal from the opposite Vices.” 2. “That the so obtaining these Advantages; is a sufficient Natural Discovery of the Divine Will’s commanding such Actions.”92 Nor will it be necessary here to use many words, because what would here be pertinent, may easily be collected from what I have laid down concerning Punishments, as from Opposites parallel’d or compar’d together.
(1.) Security from the foregoing Punishments.In the first place, therefore, I reckon among these Advantages, “A Security from pulling down those Mischiefs, which we shall otherwise bring upon our-selves, which I have just now prov’d, most frequently to fall upon the Wicked”; nor need they be repeated here. Only this I think fit to add, “That the shunning and fear of Evil does in the same manner express the pursuit and acquisition of Good, as two Negatives make an Affirmative.”93 For Evil denotes the want of that Good, which Naturerequires, and the shunning of that is in reality the pursuit of Good, which is only therefore express’d by the avoiding Evil, because, tho’ most are not sufficiently careful of those Good things which they Enjoy; yet they are strongly excited to pursue, or defend them, when they either feel or fear the Loss of them. However, tho’ such negative Ideas, and Words denoting them, be in use among Men, yet that which compells them to act, is really a positive Good, the procuring, or continuing whereof is hop’d for, from the removal of the contrary Causes. Privations and Negations do not move the Will of Man; nor does it upon any other account chuse to avoid Evil, than as that implies the Preservation of some Good. Whatever Force is usually attributed to Punishments, or Natural Evils, in exciting Men to avoid them, that is wholly to be resolv’d into the attractive Influence of those Advantages, of which they would be depriv’d by Punishments, or Evils. All those things, which are said to be done for fear of Death, or of Poverty, would more properly and Philosophically be said, to proceed from the love of Life, or of Riches. Death could not take place, had not Life preceded; nor could that be fear d, except this were first desir’d. The Reason is the same in all Evils, and, therefore, in all voluntary Actions, the Love or Pursuit of Good necessarily precedes the shunning Evil. Every Motion, indeed, is promiscuously denominated, sometimes from the Point whence the Motion begins, sometimes from that toward which it tends; yet, certainly, it is distinguish’d, or receives the most perfect Limitation of its Nature, from that Point toward which it tends. In voluntary Motions there is a particular Reason, why they should rather be denominated from Good, for they not only tend to Good, but are first excited by it.
The first Reason of my making this Remark, is, “To oppose that Assertion of Epicurus, which places the chief Pleasure, (which with him is the chief Good and End,) in the absence of Pain”:94 A-kin to which seems the Opinion of Mr. Hobbes, who asserts, “That Men seek Society from their fear of Evil”; whereas the hope, at least, of Good thence arising is easily perceiv’d; nor can any greater Good be requir’d in this State of Human Affairs, than what Society affords, since that Dominion of each over all, which Hobbes imagines to afford a Good, greater than that of Society, is evidently impossible. See de Cive, C. 1. §. 2.95
The next Reason, and, indeed, the principal One, of my making this Remark, was, to evince, “That the Proofs of Obligation, drawn from the Advantages and Rewards, which are the Effects of pursuing the Common Good, have altogether the same Force with those, which are usually taken from Punishments”; tho’ the Common Herd of Mankind, in their confus’d way of Thinking, are more sensible of these. If any one were desirous to form a distinct Idea of the Force of Punishments, I am of opinion, that it must be reduced to the natural desire of preserving and increasing our Happiness. For, as such speculative Conclusions as are demonstrated by a Reduction to that which is Absurd, or Impossible, from the supposition of the contrary, may much better and more naturally be deduc’d directly from Definitions, or the Properties thence arising: So also Practical Conclusions, which would determine us to act in a certain manner, because of Evils following from the contrary Actions, are much better prov’d from the Good thence directly flowing, especially, if it be the greatest. Certainly, the best Abridgment of Ethicks is the Idea of that true Happiness which is attainable by every one, and of all its Causes methodically dispos’d. For hence, both the Force and Consequences of Human Actions, and also their proper Order is immediately perceiv’d, so that nothing is wanting, which may direct and influence the Will.
Altho’ Human Legislators seem not to enter into this Method, making frequent use of Punishments, but very rarely of Rewards; nevertheless, if we throughly examine the matter, we shall find, “That all Civil Laws are contrived, recommended, and enacted, sometimes also alter’d, relax’d, or even abrogated, and all with respect to this End, Happiness, inasmuch as it may be promoted by Civil Society.” This I might easily prove by numberless Instances, out of the Civil Law, or even from our own. Nay, and the Reason of the Law it-self, whence Laws are Interpreted, and even sometimes Corrected, has a respect to the Common Good. I will cite only one Law from Modestinus, “No Reason of the Law, or favourable Interpretation of Equity, permits, that what was profitably introduc’d for the Advantage of Men, should by a harsh Interpretation be severely stretch’d to their Prejudice.”96 Here it is implied, that both Laws and Equity chiefly respect the Advantages of Men, under which two are compris’d all the Means of Happiness which can be obtain’d by the help of Laws. And these are indeed Rewards sufficiently great for our Obedience to the Laws. But, because Protection from Injuries, and the Security thence arising, with the other Advantages of well-constituted Governments, are common to all Subjects, and flow from obeying all the Laws together, therefore it was not proper to propose these great Advantages in any one Law: But every particular Law, if the scope thereof be well consider’d, brings along with it its own Reward. Obedience to them all, has for its Reward, the Sum of all those Advantages, which are procur’d and preserv’d in any State by the force of Government. The avoiding and fear of any Misery that may be avoided, if at any time it proceeds from clear and distinct Knowledge, is subsequent to, and deriv’d from, the Knowledge of Happiness that may be attain’d.
Wherefore, even upon this account the Method of the antient Philosophers, who taught, “That the Virtues, and their Rules, the Laws of Nature, were to be cultivated as Means necessary to Happiness, the constant Aim of all Men,” is far more excellent than that of Hobbes, who would have them, “To be only the Conditions of Peace to be made, or of finishing a certain War of every Man against every Man,” which no one in his senses would ever undertake; he would rather preserve Peace, as being always esteem’d by him, a Part, or a Means, of acquiring and preserving Happiness.
For Peace does not necessarily presuppose War, nor ought to be defin’d by the removal thereof, as Hobbes defines it,97 to favour that Hypothesis, which he design’d afterwards to establish. For it is that State, in which Rational Agents enjoy among themselves the Advantages of Concord and mutual good Offices; and War ought to be defin’d by the removal of Peace: As Health is evidently to be defin’d, not by the absence of Diseases, but Disease, by its contrariety to Health. Nature has always the first place; with it are immediately connected, both the Causes preservative thereof, and its Effects, or unhurt Operations; afterwards is gain’d, by comparison with these, the distinct Knowledge of Diseases, and of every thing opposite to Nature. Health is not desir’d, that we may avoid the Painfulness of Diseases, but for its own sake: So Peace is sought after, for the sake of the consequent Advantages, not, that we may avoid the Mischiefs of War. But this is no proper place for further Inquiries of this kind; it is sufficient, that, among the good Effects of Virtue, is reckon’d Security, both from inward Evils, such as unruly Affections, a restless Conscience, &c. and from outward Punishments, which, in Hobbes’s State of Nature, are called Wars, which the Wicked pull down upon themselves. These, good Men are free from, tho’ from other Causes they sometimes suffer Grievances, to which others are likewise liable.
(2) Greater Rewards, arising within the Mind it-self;§XLI. Let us now proceed to those greater Rewards, which, being intimately and essentially connected with the Common Good, Nature promises, and certainly bestows on those who cultivate it. They are the internal Perfections of the Mind, all the Moral Virtues, all the Benefits of Natural Religion; a Life equal to it self throughout, by means where of a wise Man is always consistent with himself; Tranquillity of Mind; and what arises from a grateful Consciousness of all these, a Joy, which is both uninterrupted, and, because its rise is in our-selves, affects and satisfies the most inward Recesses of the Soul. Out of a desire of Brevity, I have, as it were, crowded all these together; ’tis the unanimous Opinion, of even the very Heathens, and of the most disagreeing Philosophers, “That in these, incomparably the greatest Pleasures are situated, and that they are intimately connected with Human Happiness.”
(with Respect to which there has been a wonderful Agreement among all Sects of Philosophers, Epicurus’s not excepted;I might here easily shew “The wonderful Agreement between the Peripateticks, the old and new Academy, and even the Epicureans themselves”; tho’ some taught Virtue to be the only Good; others, only the chief Good; some, that it was it-self the very End; others, that it was the most proper and absolutely-necessary Means to the obtaining it. This even Epicurus himself frequently inculcates, both, in what he affirms concerning the Wise Man,98 and in his Maxims.99 What is more, he has approv’d of it by his own Example, (at least if any credit is to be given to his last Words, which to me seem to be but a Rant;) for he affirms, “That he endur’d the Torments of the Stone, and of an Ulcer in his Bowels, which were so exquisite, as to be incapable of an increase of Pain; yet that he look’d upon that Day as happy, by means of that Joy of Mind, which arose from the Remembrance of his Reasonings and Inventions.” The Reader, if he pleases, may find these his Words in the Epistle to Idomenes in Laertius.100 Certainly, tho’ there be something of Boast in these Words, they, at least, prove thus much, that he openly acknowledg’d, “That, from the true Knowledge of Nature, and from a Life spent under the Conduct of Reason, proceeded a great Joy of Mind, which might afford Comfort to a Man afflicted with the most violent Agonies, and, as a Reward, might excite the Minds of Men to Virtue.” He contends, “That Virtue alone is inseparable from Pleasure,”101 and with him Pleasure is only another Name, for the chief Happiness. But, if these things are acknowledg’d by a Philosopher, who, of all others, has made the greatest Blunders in the pursuit of natural Knowledge, (as perceiving no Foot-steps of the Divine Wisdom, Goodness, and Providence, in so surprizing a Disposition and Usefulness of all Things;) How much greater Pleasures are they sensible of, in the Paths of Virtue, and pursuit of the Common Good, who, from a more through consideration of the very long and regular Train of natural Causes, concurring to produce the most beautiful Effects, contriv’d and executed with the most consummate Wisdom and greatest Power, can with ease demonstrate, “That it is impossible, that this Universe should spring from Epicurean Principles; but that it is necessarily requisite, that a Divine Power and Wisdom should preside over the Motions and Dispositions of Natural Affairs, especially those relating to Man?” Hence they will immediately perceive, “That God himself continually attends the Preservation of the Universe,” (which is the Common Good,) and (as I have prov’d,) “That he commands Men, according to their Abilities, to promote the same”; whence they will immediately perceive a most grateful Harmony between their Actions and the Divine: From the Perception of this Consent with God, necessarily results a most agreeable Joy and Tranquillity of Mind, as under his safe Protection, accompanied with great Hopes of receiving Immortal Happiness at his bountiful hands.
the Principles of whose Natural Philosophy, by which he endeavour’d to banish the Belief of a Providence, are briefly refuted.)Epicurus’s Sect alone, among all the Philosophers, denied, “That God took care of the Universe,” and, consequently, “That he favour’d the cause of Justice among Men,” which comes to the same thing: Of which this seems to me the Reason, because (as Cicero, in the Person of Possidonius, often hints in his Treatise of the Nature of the Gods,102 ) he intended “in words only to acknowledge, but in reality to deny, a Divine Nature”: And, therefore, what he has affirm’d concerning the Gods, was only to avoid Odium and Danger. Among many things which led him into this wicked Error, this seems to me, not to have been the least, “That his knowledge of Nature, in confidence whereof he had the Rashness to deny a Divine Providence, was but very mean and superficial.”103 Altho’ I am not ignorant, that Gassendus has labour’d much in his defence;104 yet, notwithstanding, it is evident, “that his Natural Philosophy must be resolv’d into certain Principles, which assume many Suppositions not to be granted; which yet, if they were granted, would not be sufficient to establish this most beautiful System which we behold.” For he supposes, “All Things to be compos’d of Atoms moving thro’ the Void with a double natural Motion, one Perpendicular, the other Inclining, and that they owe their Motion to an innate Gravity.”105 As if Gravity were any thing distinct from Motion, or a Conatus to Motion, downward; or, as if the Cause thereof were not to be inquir’d into. But I will insist no longer upon the reciting such Opinions, the bare recital of which, in an Age of so great Discoveries, is a sufficient Confutation. He was a perfect Stranger to the Laws of Motion, nor did he sufficiently consider that remarkable Order, Connexion, and Dependence, which is conspicuous in those innumerable complicated Motions, whence the uninterrupted Revolutions of all kinds of Productions and Changes in this System proceed; yet in these, and in the Proportions of Figures and Motions thence arising, consists almost the whole Beauty of this Material System, in the investigating where of are chiefly employ’d the Powers of the most excellent natural Disquisitions, or rather of Mathematicks, (for the Knowledge of these exalted Sciences is nearly allied.) But it is confess’d, “That Epicurus was so utter a Stranger to Mathematicks, that he was not sensible of the Spherical Figure of the Earth, contending, that it was a Plain,” which is easily refuted from the first Elements of Geometry.106 Who then would expect any thing Rational from this Man, concerning the whole System of the World, and the most beautiful Order that is between its more remarkable Parts and Motions, whence both the Existence of the First Mover, and his Providence in the Government of them, may be demonstrated? It certainly to me discovers the greatest Stupidity of Mind in him, that he affirms, “So curious a Texture of all Plants and Animals to have arisen from a casual concourse of Atoms without any conduct of Reason.” I could rather believe, “That Cities adorn’d with Edifices and Temples, set forth with Columns and other Furniture, displaying, or even exceeding, all the Ornaments of Vitruvian Architecture, were fitted up by a confus’d jumble of Materials, proceeding from an Earthquake.”107 But the extravagance of his Notions out-did even it-self, when he affirm’d, “That the Human Mind, and consequently, even Reason, Wisdom, and all Arts and Sciences, ow’d their Original to a fortuitous concourse of the same Atoms, without the help of Reason.” And these Absurdities must first be believ’d, before you can learn from his Natural Philosophy, “That the Precepts of Religion and Justice are not discover’d to us from the Nature of Things govern’d by the Divine Will; and before the Hope of an ample Reward for the Observance of them, and the Dread of Divine Vengeance upon those who violate them, could be razed out of the Minds of Men.”
But it is now time to dismiss Epicurus and his Herd, tho’ lately increas’d.108 There is, however, something in his Maxims, which openly acknowledges, “That the Just Man gains this point of Happiness by his Virtue, that of all Men he enjoys the greatest Tranquillity, or freedom from perturbations of Mind.”109 Nor is it to be wonder’d at, that he would not acknowledge the Divine Reason and other Perfections to interest themselves in Human Actions, who denied, that they were visible in the Formation and Preservation of the Universe. His esteeming it necessary to deny “such Divine Interposition in the forming and preserving the World,” that Men might neither hope for, nor fear, any thing from God, upon account of their Actions; sufficiently shews, “That he thought the Hope of a farther reward for Justice, and the Fear of Punishment, was no less rational, than it is certain, that the World is form’d and govern’d by the Divine Reason.” But, since this has been evidently prov’d by others, I shall pursue it no farther, content to have brought my Argument to this Issue. It is certainly prov’d sufficiently, “That such a Proposition is a Law of Nature, which is prov’d to have receiv’d the Sanction of Rewards and Punishments from that Cause, which has establish’d the Connexion between all Causes and their Effects in the System of the World.”
Virtue it-self the Principal, both Cause and Part of Happiness.§XLII. Mean-while the judicious Reader will observe, “That I reckon all the Virtues, and that perfection of Mind which accompanies them, among the happy Consequences, or natural Rewards, of Universal Benevolence.” But they are, as I shall afterwards shew, after the same manner the Consequences of that practical Dictate of Reason which enjoins them, as the Skill of demonstrating and constructing the various Cases in any general Geometrical Problem, follows from the Knowledge of the general Method of solving that Problem; in the use of which, however, it is well known, that an attentive Mind is requisite, which may diligently mark all those Particulars in which the several Cases differ; for otherwise it may easily slide into Error. However, because all the several Virtues are the Parts of this diffusive Love, and the several Modes of practising it, and therefore, in reality, all taken together, constitute it, (as Parts the Whole;) I acknowledge, “that Virtue is great part of its own Reward,” and do declare, that much of that Happiness, which we seek after, is contain’d therein. This I understand in the same sense as we say, “that Health is great part of that Happiness sought by Animals.” That is a state of Mind fit for rightly performing its Functions; this is a correspondent condition of the Body: Both States imprint a pleasing Sense of themselves upon the Mind, and thence produce a certain gentle uninterrupted Joy, even when other matters succeed less happily. I care not in this Argument to distinguish between this Health of Mind, and the Consciousness, or Enjoyment thereof by Reflexion, since Nature has so intimately united these two, that the free Exercise of the Virtues, and the Perception or inward Sense thereof, are inseparable: Nor will I contend with them who would rather call “Virtue the immediate efficient Cause of Formal Happiness,” provided they agree in the Thing, “That it both enriches Man in his present Condition with an essential and noble part of Happiness, and paves the way to the future Acquisition of that greater Happiness, towards which it raises his Hopes.” For nothing hinders, but that the same Thing may be a Part of a Whole whose Parts exist successively, (such as Human Happiness is,) and, nevertheless, an efficient Cause of other Parts of the Same Whole, which are afterwards to exist; just as the same Man may be a Part of the Roman State, and the Father of a Son, who will afterwards be a Member of the same State.
Which is therefore a Proof from Nature, and the strongest possible, that it is the Will of God, that we should practise Virtue.Much has been advanc’d by Philosophers, especially the Stoicks and Academicks, which with strength and perspicuity demonstrates, “That the Virtues necessarily bring Happiness along with them, as essentially connected therewith”: Which I did not think fit to transcribe, as being what the Learned are already sufficiently acquainted with. It is sufficient, that I readily acknowledge them to be the principal Parts of Human Happiness, so that neither without them can any Man (tho’ abounding with all other Advantages) be Happy: Nor, if he posesses them, can he be miserable, however unfortunate. They are therefore, upon account of their own intrinsick Perfection, worth the pursuit, tho’ they were enjoin’d by no Law of Nature; which I would have been at more pains to prove, but that I find it not only granted, but prov’d at large by Torquatus in Cicero de Fin. even when he is defending Epicurus’s Doctrine.110 What I would infer from these Reasonings or Concessions of Philosophers, is, “That we have a proof, from Nature, that virtuous Actions have a Reward annex’d to ’em by the Will of the First Cause; and, therefore, that it is the Will of the same Cause, that Men, whom he has instructed how to foresee the Rewards consequent upon such Actions, should act so as to obtain that foreshewn Happiness.” In this discovery of the Divine Will consists the Promulgation of the Law of Nature, and thence directly flows Natural and Moral Obligation. And this is what even those Philosophers, who taught Virtue to be the chief Happiness, seem not sufficiently to have regarded. For, in my opinion, it adds vast weight to the Arguments drawn from the Pleasures consequent upon virtuous Actions, if they be consider’d as Rewards annex’d to Virtue by the Will of the First Cause, for that very purpose, that He might discover to Men, that it is His Will, “That they should rather do those things which he has honour’d with Rewards natural and easily foreseen, than Actions of a contrary kind, which are known to lead Men to Destruction naturally, in that Scheme of all Things which he has establish’d.
A Proof superior to what can be given by any arbitrary Signs.God’s constantly and naturally rewarding any Actions, is the plainest and most effectual Method, that can be by natural Signs, of persuading to such Actions, and authentically declaring, that he has commanded them. No one in his senses expects from God, in the ordinary course of Nature, arbitrary Signs, such as Words spoken or written, in order to promulge his Laws. Nor, if he afforded such, could we so certainly come at the Knowledge of their Signification, as we understand the Force of a Reward to incline the Minds of Men to do such things, as they perceive to be thereby honour’d. It is from Conjectures not perfectly demonstrative, that we collect, in our Childhood, what others mean by those Words, which Men use among themselves: Yet these are generally sufficient to explain to us the Meaning of Civil Laws. What is more; I have observ’d many of such a Disposition, “That they would willingly part with the Perfections of their Minds, and be content to want that share of Happiness, provided they might indulge their favourite Passions; who yet, after once it sufficiently appears, that the Divine Will has, by Rewards and Punishments, establish’d a Law which restrains those Passions, and calls upon them otherwise to bestow their Pursuits and Labour, reverence and observe it; and readily conjecture, that greater Good or Evil may, by the Interposition of the Divine Will, follow from their Actions, than what can be distinctly foreseen.” For the smallest Hint, provided it be certain, of the Will of the Supreme Lord of All, is of the greatest Weight among all, who are truly Rational; because whatever is of the utmost Importance may be justly expected, both from his Favour, and from his Anger.
Whence Reason promises Good Men, Happiness, not in this Life only, but in a future Immortal State.Among these Rewards is that happy Immortality, which natural Reason promises to attend the Minds of Good Men, when separated from the Body. For it perceives the Mind, as exerting more noble Powers, to be a Substance of a different kind from the Body, and is sensible of its firm Resolution of practising perpetual Benevolence, and, consequently, all the Virtues. Now it is evident, “That Substance will enjoy a happy Immortality, which upon account of the Diversity of its Nature, is not hurt by the Death of the Body; and which still enjoys the charming Remembrance of its former Virtue, and is ready to lay hold of all Opportunities, which an endless Duration will afford, of practicing Virtue.” For it appears from what I have already said, which is confirm’d by all Experience, “That the Happiness of Good Men is inseparable from the Remembrance and Exercise of Virtue.” But it is sufficient for me briefly to have hinted this, which has by others been handled more at large.
(3.) All the Advantages of Civil Society.§XLIII. In the third and last place, all the various Advantages of Political Societies come to be reckon’d among the Rewards naturally consequent upon endeavouring to promote the Common Good: For they are at first establish’d, and afterwards preserv’d, with that view. States, indeed, have a particular respect to their own Subjects; yet so, that their Rulers take an especial Care, not to injure, violate Faith, or refuse any office of Gratitude, or Humanity, to those who are without their State; to these Heads are reduc’d the principal Rights of Peace and War; which, by the Intervention of the supreme Powers are by all good Subjects observ’d, with respect to those of all other Nations. I shall elsewhere, if there be occasion, shew more at large, that the Reason of forming all States is to be drawn from this Principle. Even Mr. Hobbes himself in many places grants, “That the Advantages of Societies are great, and that they can neither be establish’d nor preserv’d, unless the Precepts of most Virtues be incorporated into, and confirm’d by the Authority of, the Laws of the State”;111 so that it would be superfluous to add more here upon that head. This Remark, however, it may not be improper to make here, “That to this Class I reduce all those Advantages of Society, which, altho’ they be not always enjoin’d by all, and are consequently to be look’d on as Contingent, are yet such as may with some probability be expected.” Such Contingent Advantages are of no contemptible Value in this Argument; such are Plenty of Necessaries, Security of Life, Honours, Riches, a happier Education of Youth, a greater share of Learning, &c. These indeed fall not to the share of All, at least, not equally, from the Advantages of Society. Yet I am of opinion, that All do thence enjoy a much greater share of such Benefits than they could obtain, if Men did not study to promote the Common Good, and no Civil Societies were form’d, but that all liv’d in that Brute-like State, to which Hobbes contends, that the right Reason of Individuals would reduce all, before Societies were erected. It is necessary, “That we should set a value upon such contingent Advantages, when we deliberate upon those Affairs, which we are to transact with other Men”; because all Effects which we can hope for from such free Agents, by our behaviour toward them, are in their own Nature Subject to such Contingency. So that either we are not to hope that any Good can be obtain’d from them, which is contrary to all Experience; or we must set some value upon that Civil Good, which is liable to many Hazards. As for my own part, I so highly prize the Advantages (I have enumerated) which flow immediately from Civil Society, but draw their Original from the Observance of the Law of Nature by pursuing the Common Good, that I sincerely believe, even the Loss of Life (which the Laws of Nature sometimes oblige us to lay down for our Country112 ) is abundantly recompensed, and even surmounted by them. A liberal Education, Learning, the Security arising from Government, the agreeable Intercourse of Mankind, and all other Ornaments which we owe to mutual Assistance, are what make Life worth enjoying; therefore, after we have for several years reap’d these Advantages, from the Benevolence of our Fellow-Subjects promoting the Publick Good, they would make no unreasonable demand, should they command us to restore, or lay out for their benefit, that Life which was at first receiv’d, and afterwards often preserv’d, by their means. Nay, after all, we should still be Debtors to our Native-Country, or Fellow-Citizens, tho’ in some uncommon Cases, and when our Country is in the utmost Necessity, we should, at their Desire, repay that Life, which it gave us, and which it daily and perpetually preserv’d.
There are few who would hurt others upon account of their observing the Precepts of the Law of Nature, and therefore to guard them, smaller certain Rewards, or obscure Hints of greater ones, will be sufficient. But, because many Persecutions arise, in opposition to those Articles, which are peculiar to the Christian Faith, or Discipline; therefore, to strengthen Christians it was necessary, that the Resurrection, and the Glory of the Kingdom of Heaven, should be reveal’d, lest Christians should be of all Men most miserable.113
II. That such Advantages are a natural Declaration of God’s commanding such Actions, in pursuit of the Common Good.§XLIV. Having now prov’d what I first propos’d, “That those Human Actions which promote the Publick Good, obtain the greatest Advantages for their Reward”;114 the second remains to be dispatch’d, “That the conferring these Advantages, or Rewards, by the Appointment of the First Cause, is a sufficient Proof from Nature, that God wills or commands, that Men should in all their Actions perpetually pursue the Publick Good.” Because I think I have sufficiently prov’d this already, where I treated of Punishments, and of that Happiness of the Mind, which is united to Virtue, I shall here contract the Force of that Reasoning into one Syllogism.
The supreme Governor of the World, or First Rational Cause, by whose Will things are so dispos’d, that it is with sufficient clearness discover’d to Men, that some Actions of theirs are necessary Means to an End, which Nature determines to pursue, wills, that Men should be oblig’d to those Actions, or he commands those Actions.
But things are so dispos’d by the Will of God, that it is sufficiently discover’d to Men, that the Pursuit of the Common Good is such a Means to an End plainly necessary to them, by Nature determining them to the Pursuit thereof, namely, their Happiness, which is contain’d in the Common Good, and can with Reason be expected from thence only.
Therefore it is his Will, that they shall be oblig’d to this Pursuit, or to such Actions as flow from thence: That is, he enjoins Universal Benevolence, which is the Sum of the Laws of Nature.
The Major is taken from that Definition of Obligation, which I have before establish’d. The Minor is now prov’d. Therefore the Conclusion holds good. I am to advertise the Reader, that by their Happiness I here mean their true and intire Happiness; which comprehends all the attainable Perfections both of Mind and Body, and extends it-self, not to the present Life only, but to that which is to come, as far as it may be known by the Light of Nature. Likewise by those Actions which are suppos’d to be the Means of this Happiness, I understand, principally, the intire Series of Actions thro’ the whole course of Life, which may promote that End; tho’ every single Action, necessary to procure any part of that true Happiness, is by this Argument prov’d to be commanded by the Author of Nature. It is necessary to this constant and solid Happiness (which I treat of) of particular Persons, “That every Rational Being should come to some resolution within himself, concerning some constant Tenor of his Actions looking that way.” Such is the natural Constitution of all those Causes, upon procuring the Concurrence whereof that Happiness depends, that the right Reason of Men (namely, that which is agreeable to the Nature of Man, and promises the desir’d Effect from Causes which will certainly produce it) can discover no other Action of ours effectual to produce this End, but this only, “That, to our power, we should procure to ourselves the Favour of God and Men by Universal Benevolence.” Or, which comes to the same thing, the Nature of God and Man rightly consider’d discovers this, “That every one uses the best Method in his Power, to procure his own Happiness” (which is a part of the Publick Happiness) “who constantly promotes the Common Good”: And therefore it is necessary, “That he should thus act, if he would use his utmost Endeavours to make himself Happy.” All who form a right Judgment of the Nature of God and Men, in which are contain’d the Causes of the Happiness of every particular Person, may agree in this consistently with the care of their own Happiness; and they are mov’d or solicited by sufficient Discoveries from Nature, and, consequently, from its Author, that they should actually agree, “That this Proposition is perpetually true, and the perpetual Rule and Law of Action.” Altho’ it may sometimes, but very rarely, happen, “That some particular Person may obtain for a time some greater Advantages, than what are consistent with the Common Good”; yet because, “If the whole course of Existence be taken into consideration, greater Happiness may be obtain’d by neglecting those Advantages, than by pursuing them,” that Person cannot reckon them among the Parts of his greatest possible Happiness. Under this one most general Dictate is comprehended all Philosophy Moral, Civil, and Oeconomical, all true Prudence, and every Virtue. By this Method we shall best consult the Interest, both of others, and ourselves; nor shall we disturb the Order of Nature, by making all Things subordinate to ourselves, which was the second Objection.
Obj. 2. That by the Author’s Method the Common Good (the Honour of God, as well as the Happiness of other Men) is postpon’d to the Happiness of every particular Person. Answ. No; for§XLV. I will now proceed to the Solution of that Objection which suggests, “That the Effect of my Method of deducing the Laws of Nature, is, that the Common Good, and, consequently, the Honour of God, and the Happiness of all other Men, will be postpon’d to the Happiness of every particular Person, and be made subservient thereto, as to the chief End.” Far be it from me to advance any such Doctrine. On the contrary, I here endeavour to establish, what overthrows the very Foundation of that Opinion, because I have asserted, “That no Man has a Right to Life, or to the Necessaries thereof, but so far as the Life of every Man is either a Part, or a Cause, of the Common Good, or at least consistent with it.” But I will here distinctly shew the Consistency of these things.115
I. The Rational pursuit of a Man’s own Happiness obliges him to pursue the Common Good, the Honour of God, and the Happiness of other Men.First then I am to observe, “That natural Obligation is not discover’d by Man in the same Order, in which it is founded and establish’d in Nature by the Author thereof.” We are under the necessity of first using the Analytical Method, by rising from those Effects which immediately affect us, to various and very complicated second Causes, ’till at length we arrive at the First. But we are by no means injurious to him, if at the End of our inquiries we acknowledge, “That all those necessary Effects which we had before observ’d, ow’d their Original to his Will; and, if we refer to him all that Perfection, which we had taken notice of in them.” So, with respect to our present Subject, we have first “some Knowledge of our own Nature, and of the Necessity of some things to its Happiness, and of some plainly natural Propensions and Endeavours to obtain such Necessaries.” We then observe, “That some free Actions of ours are, whether we will or no, naturally oppos’d and restrain’d, as far as in them lies, by those with whom we have to do; while others of our Actions (such as are beneficial to others) are chearfully recompens’d with reciprocal Affection”; we further perceive “ourselves so fram’d by Nature, that we incline, with out deliberation, to repel Force with Force, and, to return Like for Like”;116 nor does the most consummate Reason dictate otherwise. From innumerable and perpetual Observations of this kind, and others that I have before suggested, the Mind of Man becomes persuaded, “That the Benevolence of each towards all paves the way to the Rewards and Happiness of all other Men alike; and that so much the more, by how much it is the more diffusive.” When afterwards the Mind considers, “That this is all effected by the most provident Author of Nature,” it cannot doubt, “But that he would have this regarded by Men, as it really is, to be a sufficient Argument afforded by the supreme Governor of the World, to incline them to the exercise of Universal Benevolence”: That is, (as I have shewn,) as a Proof of our Obligation, and a certain Mark of the Law enjoining it. Altho’, therefore, this be last discover’d, yet here the Obligation of the Laws of Nature takes its first Rise, namely, from the Discovery of the Will of God, whom, from his Works, we had learn’d to be a most perfect Being, the Cause of all Things, upon whose Pleasure depends the whole Happiness of All, and consequently our own, concerning which we are naturally most solicitous. The Obligation arises no otherwise from the Love of our own Happiness, than the Truth of Propositions concerning the Existence of Things natural, and of their First Cause, which is thence discover’d, arises from the Credit given to the Testimony of our Senses. Yet no-one would say, “That we, therefore, preferred our Senses to the whole World, and to God himself”; since we readily acknowledge, “That their very Existence, and all their Use, depends upon God as their First Cause, and upon the System of the World, as upon Causes subordinate to him.” That is first in Nature, at which we arrive last in this inverted Method of Reasoning. Therefore, altho’ this Method of coming at Knowledge, be evidently natural and very common; altho’ our Passions also, and several Appetites, are excited according to the discoveries we make of Good and Evil; yet we may not, therefore, thence affirm, what is most worthy to be known, or amiable above all other things. But, as by the help of our Senses, we learn some very general Principles, (as for Example, the most universal Theorems of Arithmetick and Geometry,) whereby we may successfully correct those Errors, which the generality are wont to imbibe from misapprehended Sensations; in like manner, from the Love of our own Happiness, under the conduct of Prudence, all who are truly Rational attain such a Knowledge of Natural Things and of God himself, and such Affections towards his Honour, and the Common Happiness of all, as either prevent or root out all perverse Self-Love: Those, (or at least some of those,) first Natural and Necessary Appetites, which we suppose in Men, of procuring their own Preservation and Happiness, are confin’d within a very narrow compass, and are perfectly free from Fault; as our simple Sensations, with respect to the proper objects of our Senses, under proper Regulations, are free from Error.117 Which were it otherwise, there would be no hope left, either of knowing Nature, or of conforming our Actions to the Laws of Nature; but a fruitless and perpetual Scepticism would be necessarily introduc’d into the place of Science, and a casual Determination of our Actions into that of Prudence, and the regular Conduct of our Passions; and there would be no difference between the Wise Man and the Fool.
Because, from the Knowledge and Love of those Effects, which immediately affect us, our Mind, by natural methods, comes to know and love all those various Causes upon which we depend, especially those Causes which are Rational; which recommend themselves to our Understanding and Passions, not only upon account of the Effects which they produce, but also of the Resemblance of their Nature to our own; it is evident, “That those first Notions which we form of ourselves, and Inclinations towards our own Happiness, are only, as it were, Steps to the Knowledge of more exalted Objects, and to Affections more diffus’d and more intense, in proportion to that Goodness and Perfection which we discover in other Objects.” It is certainly too plain to need proof, “That the Degrees and Measure of our Love do not depend upon the Order of Time, when the Objects begin to be known or lov’d; but upon our Judgment of that Measure of natural Goodness, which we discover in Persons and Things.” I have prov’d, in the Chapter concerning Good, “That any thing is esteem’d good, not with respect to ourselves only,” which alone Hobbes acknowledges in a State of Nature, “but upon account of the Influence it has in preserving or perfecting others, especially that Aggregate Body, which is compos’d of all Rational Beings.” This Goodness or Happiness will readily be acknowledgd to be greater in all Mankind, than in any single Person; but in God by far the greatest; he will, therefore, be amiable above all Things.
The whole Matter therefore is reduc’d to this Point; we are excited by the Love of our own Happiness, (which we look upon as a thing that may be effected,) to consider those Causes upon which it depends; those especially, which have the principal share in effecting it, and which are inclin’d, according as we behave, to increase or diminish it; such are God and all other Men. Upon a through examination of the Nature of these Causes, we observe in them a Perfection and Goodness, or an aptness to preserve and improve the State of the Universe, evidently like to what render’d us amiable to ourselves; but in God we perceive it infinitely greater. Farther; we find that every one of them is no less determin’d by its own Reason, to pursue those things which are agreeable to its own Happiness, than we ourselves are; so that there is evidently no Reason, “Why we should either desire or expect, that all should be subservient to us, rather than to others, or themselves.”
The only way of reconciling all Rational Agents being, That all should agree in and pursue one End, The Common Good.§XLVI. There is but one way of reconciling all Rational Beings to all and every one, so far as the Frame of the Universe permits; and that Reason suggests from the Knowledge of a Sum or Aggregate of Particulars, a Knowledge peculiar to Rational Beings, namely, That all should agree in and pursue one End, the Common Good. This every particular Person may easily do, because the Nature of every Rational Agent is possess’d of an Understanding in some measure comprehending it, and of a Will inclinable to pursue it. For by this means the Happiness of Individuals will be provided for, in the best manner that the Nature of Things permits; for each Individual is a Part of the Community: But that Happiness which any one may rashly hope for, which is inconsistent with the Happiness of the Aggregate Body compos’d of all Rational Beings, is impossible, as being inconsistent with the determinate Force of Causes much more powerful than the Will of him, who aims at such Happiness; and, therefore, cannot be rationally propos’d.
This I would chiefly have observ’d, “That, tho’ the Care of our own Happiness led us to consider the Nature of Rational Causes; yet that Reason which is essential to all, and the natural Determinations of their Will to pursue their possible Happiness; and all that Perfection and Goodness, which we perceive in them relating to the State of the Universe, do both enable them to propose to themselves this Common End, and make it necessary, “That they should resolve actually to pursue it, if they would come to any rational Resolution concerning their own Practice.” For that is the only End, in pursuit of which all can conspire; and it is most certain, “That no Method of Action can be propos’d according to right Reason, in which all cannot agree.” Therefore there arises a necessity from the common Nature of Rational Agents, that every one, by the exercise of Universal Benevolence, should always seek the Common Good, and his own only as a Part thereof, and consequently subordinate thereto, which is the Sum of the Law of Nature.
Altho’ the Nature of all other Rational Beings, among which every Man may reckon his own, discovers to us, what, in the present System, is necessary to be done, in order to obtain an End, greater than our own Happiness, which End will yet bring along with it the fullest Enjoyment of that, so far as it can be obtain’d; yet because in this System of Rational Beings, there is but one Author, Preserver, and Lord of All, at whose pleasure all that is necessary to the Happiness of all others is principally dispos’d; and the Necessity of pursuing this End, and of exerting suitable Actions, as the Means to attain it, does, consequently, proceed from his Will made known to us by his Works: “The Obligation to such Actions is justly ascrib’d to his Will alone, as commanding them.”
In the Analysis of the Question which we propose, “concerning the Method of acquiring the Happiness of any particular Person in any given Circumstances,” it happens, (what may perhaps seem strange to many, tho’ very usual in Geometrical Analysis;) “That at the End of the Inquiry is found, not only that which was at first sought after, but also other matters relating to the Subject, about which the Proposer of the Question was not at all solicitous.” For,
First, there comes out an Answer, or general Solution, which is not suited to the Circumstances of that one Person only, but of any other, as equally depending upon God and other Men; nay, whole Nations are directed by the same method to their Happiness. This Universal Benevolence, and all those Precepts which are contain’d in the Care of the Common Good, do oblige, both every Man, and whole Nations, for the same reason that they are to be observ’d by any one, as is evident upon consideration.
Secondly, it appears from the same Analysis, how the Question (which was propos’d without any Limitation) must be limited, to make the Solution possible and certain. For it is requir’d, “That the Happiness propos’d by any one be such, as may be consistent with the Nature and determinate Inclinations of other Rational Causes, whose force is greater”; that is, “That it be consistent with, and subservient to, the Honour of God, and the Common Good of Men.” Whoever would propose to himself any other Happiness, is admonish’d by this Solution, “that his desire is to be look’d upon as an impossible Problem, and therefore to be wholly rejected.” I forbear mentioning Geometrical Examples of such Solutions, because they are familiar to the skilful in the Analytick Art, and to others they would be ungrateful, and seem too foreign to our purpose. And this may serve for the First Part of our Answer to the propos’d Objection.
2. The End of the Legislator, and of the Observer of the Law of Nature, is far greater than the Sanction, which regards the Private Happiness of any Individual.§XLVII. I add Secondly, “That the End of the Legislator, and also of him who fulfils the Law of Nature, is far greater and more excellent, than the avoiding that Punishment, or the obtaining that Reward, whence the Law receives its Sanction, and which is what immediately affects every Subject; though the Obligation of every Subject to yield Obedience be indeed, immediately, discover’d by those Rewards and Punishments.” For the End, that is, the Effect directly intended by both, is the Publick Good, the Honour of the Governor, and the Welfare of all his Subjects. But these are manifestly greater than the Happiness of any single Person, who pays Obedience to the Law. No-one does truly observe the Law, unless he sincerely propose the same End with the Legislator. But, if he directly and constantly aim at this End, it is no diminution to the Sincerity of his Obedience, “that, at the Instigation of his own Happiness, he first perceiv’d, that his Sovereign commanded him to respect a higher End.” Laws would receive the Sanctions of Rewards and Punishments in vain, “unless the Consideration of them might be effectual, to incline those Subjects, whose Happiness they increase or diminish, to a sincere and intire Obedience.” For such a Sanction is added to the Law for this very Purpose, “That it might incline the Subjects to pursue a greater End than every one his own Happiness.”(Writers of Ethicks, when they speak of each Person’s particular Happiness, as his ultimate End, how to be understood in a sound Sense.) Therefore, when Moral Writers speak of every Man’s Happiness as his ultimate End,118 I would willingly interpret them in this sense, “That it is the chief End among those, which respect the Agent himself only”; and I doubt not, but that every Good Man has an End, that is, intends an Effect, that is greater, namely, the Honour of God, and the Increase of other Mens Happiness. I conceive the one chief End or best Effect, to be compos’d of our own Happiness, and that of all other Rational Beings, (which we endeavour as opportunity offers.)
Our present Inquiry is, not that common one of the antient Philosophers, “which of several good Things possible is greater, and, therefore, more industriously to be pursued”; but, supposing Human Happiness is made up of the Concurrence of many good Things of different kinds, and may be successively enjoy’d thro Man’s whole natural course of existence, the Question is, whilst we are in pursuit of a continual Succession of such Advantages, or even greater; “Whether the Nature of Rational Causes, on which depends the Hope of this Happiness, requires, That I should procure their Favour by preferring the Common Good of all to my own private Happiness, and by considering that only as a Part of the Common Happiness, which cannot be procur’d; unless that of the Whole be preserv’d intire?” Or, “Whether the Nature of Rational Causes does rather admonish, that I should endeavour to secure my-self by preventing others, by Force or Fraud, as if they naturally regarded the Good of themselves alone, and were therefore my Enemies?” This is plainly enough Mr. Hobbes’s Doctrine, De Cive C. 5. §. 1.119 But I apprehend such a natural Benignity in Rational Agents, as inclines them to befriend all others, provided they will concur with them to promote the Common Good. The Cause of this Benignity is, “That all, the more Reason they are endow’d with, are the more ready to consent to this End, as the greatest of all, and to judge, that their own Happiness can be best promoted by this method only”:120 Whence it follows, “That every one of these is inclinable, either by Words or Actions to propose this End to others, and to enforce it by Persuasion, as soon as there is an opportunity of meeting, and that no one can rationally with-hold his Consent”; so that we ought not to presume of any one, that he would refuse to consent to this End, except we have sufficient Proof, that he hath divested himself of right Reason; but ought to treat all others, as if they had expressly concurr’d with us in such Consent. But on this very account, “that any one resolves with himself to pursue the Common Good, preferably to that of any particular Person,” he proposes to himself an End compos’d of his own Happiness and that of others, and obtains some Part of it, whenever he benefits either others or himself, ever so little, without hurting any other Person.
The End of a Rational Agent is, not only his own Happiness, but every Effect, which he intends to produce: His principal End is that which limits all his Actions, in pursuit of his other Ends.Upon this occasion it may be very pertinent to observe, “That an End is not that only, which any Rational Agent enjoys,” (His own proper Happiness for Instance,) “but all the whole Effect, which he wittingly, willingly, and designedly produces, or endeavours to produce.” And hence those things which we advisedly do, that we may profit or please others, are no less justly to be esteem’d our Ends, than that inward Happiness, with which we are formally blessed. That internal Happiness of any one seems to me upon no other account to be called his End, than “as all the Parts thereof are Effects, towards which, as points in view, our Actions and Affections are directed by Reason.” Nor can any Reason be assign’d, why “other Effects, towards which, as certain Aims plac’d without us, such kind of Actions and Affections are directed by the same Reason, may not for the same Cause be called Ends.”
From the forgoing Principles, the Author infers the Common Good, to be the chief End.Farther; among such Ends, that is justly look’d upon as Chief, upon account whereof, according to the Dictates of right Reason, we willingly limit our Operations relating to all other Ends whatsoever, even those which respect our own Happiness. But from the consideration of the Common Good, as our intire and adequate End, and of our own Happiness as a small Part thereof, we determine all those Operations which respect our-selves. Therefore I make the Common Good the chief End in that Method, which I here prescribe to Human Actions.
The Proof of the Minor is evident from what I have advanc’d in the First Chapter, where I prov’d, “That the Measure of good Things every one is intitul’d to, and may rationally seek, is no otherwise to be determin’d and settled, than by that Proportion he bears to the System of all Rational Beings, or to the whole natural Kingdom of God.” Perfectly in the same manner as the Nourishment fit for the Preservation and Increase of each particular Member in a healthful Animal is determin’d, by that Proportion which it bears to the most flourishing State of the whole Body.
Our pursuit of private Happiness must be limited by a regard to the Common Good.§XLVIII. We are necessarily led, to make this Limitation of the Happiness we hope for, by those Principles I have laid down, representing God and other Men, as the voluntary Causes thereof, so that it is necessary for us, (the Nature of God and Men requiring it,) to procure their Favour, by gratifying them in all things, as by far the greatest and principal Parts of the whole natural Community, before we can with reason expect their Assistance, which is plainly necessary to our Welfare. For, “In acting for an End, it is perfectly repugnant to Reason, to hope for, or intend, any other Effect, than what is determin’d from the Nature of all those Causes, especially the principal ones, which concur thereto.” And, therefore, “Since the principal Causes of our Happiness are other Rational Agents, beside ourselves, only such a Measure thereof ought to be expected, as the Will and Reason of such Causes, which are naturally necessary thereto, will permit.” For, altho’ in the Investigation of Causes (as in the Solution of Problems) we begin at the Effects, of which we have, for the most part, only a confus’d Idea, or barely wish for, (which is every one’s possible Happiness, in our general Conception of it,) yet (having finish’d the Analysis, and distinctly discover’d and rang’d in our Minds the Consequences, as well as their immediate Effects,) in Action we proceed Synthetically, from weighing, and considering, and procuring the Assistance of particular Causes, (God, for Instance, and Mankind, which precede in the Order of Nature,) to those good Effects relating to the publick Happiness, which may be obtain’d by their Powers and natural Tendencies concurring with our Endeavours. Just as in the Construction of Geometrical Problems, we use a regular Synthesis, (which the Analytick Method had before discover’d,) which, from the real or suppos’d Position of Points, or drawing of the most simple Lines, and their known Properties, throughly determines the Nature of the Effect desir’d.
This illustrated by the Geometrical Method of finding and a Mean ProportionalLet us illustrate this whole matter by an easy Geometrical Similitude. One has occasion to find out a Mean Proportional between two given Lines; he presently makes an Analytical Inquiry into the Causes by which that may be determin’d, and finds, “that by the Circumference of a Circle, whose Diameter is the Sum of the two given Lines, the business may be most conveniently done.”121 Here then another Operation, and that greater than the drawing one strait Line, namely, the Mean Proportional wanted, is offer’d to the consideration of our Geometrician. The two given Lines are to be connected, and the middle Point is to be found out in the Line compos’d of them both. With this Center, and the Distance thence measur’d to either End of the compound Line is to be describ’d a Circle, from whose Circumference a Perpendicular let fall upon the Point of Connexion of the two Lines, will finish the affair. It is evident in this Construction, “That the Synthetick Method is requisite; and that the Operations of our Geometrician are not directed only by a respect had to the Length of that right Line which he seeks, but also by the consideration of the Nature of the Center, Diameter, Circumference, and Perpendicular to be let fall upon the given Point”: For “from the Natures or Definitions of these, and their mutual Relations, the Efficacy of the Practice to obtain the End desir’d, is demonstrated”; from them is also prov’d, “That the same Construction is sufficient to determine the Length, not of this one Line only, but of innumerable others of the like kind, which may perhaps be of use to others”; because that Diameter may be divided in any Point thereof into two other right Lines, between which the same Circle exhibits a Mean Proportional, which, upon another Occasion, may perhaps be of use to some other, or to himself. In like Manner, all particular Men, in their natural search after Happiness, first discover, “That the Object of their Pursuit ought to be a determinate Measure of Good, proportionable to their Wants, which is somewhat distincter than their Idea of the Happiness they are in search of.” Afterwards they make a stricter Inquiry into (the Causes, whence such Good is to be hop’d for, and proceeding in their Analysis from the next immediate Causes, to those which are more remote from us in the System of Things, are led by Nature to understand, “That all the Rational Agents about us are to be regarded as Causes upon which we in some measure depend, and are accordingly to be made our Friends by Universal Benevolence.” Wherefore this Analysis instructs us, “That a greater End is to be pursued, than what at first offer’d it-self to our view, as what, from the Nature of the Universe, (of which we are a Part,) our own greatest Happiness is necessarily connected with; and, therefore, we must either pursue it in conjunction with that nobler End, the Publick Good, (the Honour of God and Happiness of Mankind;) or throw away all hopes thereof, founded in the Nature of Things.” These discoveries thus made by the Analysis of those Causes, the Mind applies it-self to the prosecution of that nobler End, (in which our own Happiness is abundantly contain’d,) and ranks and rates all Causes, according to the Measure of the Powers and Inclinations it finds in them with respect to this End. Hence, since it perceives that God and Men, both can and will contribute most to this End, as their Common Good is the End; it acknowledges, that their Powers are the Causes, or fittest Means thereto; and therefore it unites it-self to them and makes use of them, in a manner agreeable to their Rational Nature and Dignity, that is, either by proposing to them some things to be done which may conduce to this End, or by consenting with them in such Actions as they convince us to be necessary, or at least discover to be permitted without prejudice to this End. Since all these things are done for the sake of this noblest End alone, it follows, “That we, thro’ our whole Train of Action, and, consequently, thro’ our whole Course of Life regulated according to this method, will unite ourselves to those Causes, which we know most able and willing to promote that End, that is, God especially, and Good Men; and prefer the greater Parts of this End, before the lesser; Publick Advantages, for Example, before Private, &c.” that is (to pursue the Parallel) when we proceed to operation, we shall in the first place take care to find out the Center and first Principle of that most noble Problem which is propos’d, and to keep our due distance from it; that is, we shall have an Eye to God, and those Discoveries of his Will, which are visible in his Works, afterwards considering those particular Men, which every way encompass us, as the infinite Points of the Circumference, and preserving inviolably that Order and Situation of all, which is establish’d by the First Cause, by the help of a Circular Motion, or of Benefits mutually exchang’d, we at length find out a happy Opportunity, as the Point of Connexion of the two Lines, in which what is sufficient for us may be allow’d without Injury to others; and so the Measure proportionate to our Condition, that we may promote the Good of the whole System, is limited by all others around us, as the Length of the Mean Proportional inquir’d after, is determin’d by the Circumference. Mean-while it is owing to this most noble Motion of reciprocal Beneficence, that others reap like, and often, as occasion offers, greater Benefits, than those we obtain for ourselves; as by drawing the same Circle, not only a Mean Proportional may be found out between two given Lines, but also like Mean Proportionals between infinite other Lines, into which the same Diameter may be divided; and those Means useful to others may be often greater than that we have occasion for. Lastly; the Power, Perfection, and Rank of the Circle among Figures, is not valued by the skilful Geometrician from any single Effect, but from all its Effects united, or from the Construction of all Problems, which may be any way solv’d by it. In like manner, every Rational Person will value the Perfection and inward Force of the First Cause, and of all Mankind, not only from that Influence upon his own Happiness he discovers in them, but from that prodigious variety and greatness of Effects, which have hitherto proceeded, or may hereafter proceed, from these Causes; but especially from the Good of the Universe, or the Common Happiness of all Rational Beings, which is daily preserv’d, and even increas’d, by their Powers. For the only Measure of Power, is the Sum of all its Effects, and, therefore, the Power of Beneficence is to be estimated from the Aggregate of all the Benefits thence arising. And the natural Rank among Beneficent Causes, is according to the Measure of their Beneficence, so that the less Beneficent may, with respect to this Attribute, be called Inferior, or Subordinate, to the more Beneficent; as in an increasing or ascending Series of Numbers, the smaller are called Inferior.
The Natures of Things are not to be estimated from any one particular, but from their adequate Effect.§XLIX. It is hence manifest, “That our Minds are sufficiently instructed, from the Natures and essential Powers of Things, how to form a just Judgment or Estimation of the Goodness, Order, and Dignity of Things; and that, not from their Relation to ourselves little Mortals, but to the whole collective Body of Rational Beings, or to that whole Society, of which God is the Head; altho’, perhaps, the first Inducement to a more strict Inquiry into the Nature of all Things, was a regard to our own Happiness.”
It is likewise evident, “That, if we will compare the Parts of that greatest End, of which I have been treating, and contemplate their Order among themselves, that Part of the End will be Superior, which is grateful to the Nature of the more perfect Being. So that the Glory of God is Chief, then follows the Happiness of many Good Men, and Inferior to this is the Happiness of any particular Person.”
Among the Means to this End or Causes of this Effect, each will claim a greater Share of Esteem, Love, and Care, as it is more Effectual to obtain that End; whence the first Place will here be given to God, the next to the Assistance of the most and best Men; but any particular Person, (and consequently, he that deliberates with himself upon his own Affairs,) will take up with the lowest Place, if he act agreeably to the Nature of Things.
And thus, I think, I have abundantly remov’d all Suspicion of any Consequences from my Method, which might prefer the Happiness of any single Person, to the Honour of God, or the Publick Good.
The Words, [End] or Effect, [Means] or Cause, are only external Denominations, no way measuring the inward Perfection of Things.But lest any one should take offence, “That even the First Cause and all Mankind should be consider’d as the Means to that noblest End, a small Part whereof is the Happiness of any particular Person”; I think it proper here openly to affirm, what I have often hinted, “That these Words, [End] and [Means], are only external Denominations ascrib’d to Effects and Causes, so far as they proceed from the Deliberation and Intention of Rational Agents”: Any Effect propos’d by them is call’d an End, and any Cause, whose force contributes any thing towards it, is call’d the Means. But such extrinsick Denominations are neither the proper Measures of the intrinsick Perfection of Things, nor of that Esteem they are in with others. For it is obvious, “That neither God, nor the Body of Mankind, lose ought of their Dignity or Honour, by voluntarily contributing to the Happiness of an Inferior.”
Every particular Effect is Inferior to its Cause.“A particular Effect may be far inferior to its Cause, and is generally so reputed”; and therefore the particular End, at which a Rational Agent aims, may be less noble than himself. It is sufficient, if his whole or adequate End be agreeable to his Dignity. However, the Honour of superior Causes is sufficiently provided for, even when they condescend to the lowest Effects, both because they do it voluntarily and deliberately, and because there is no other Method of procuring their Assistance, but by consenting voluntarily to serve their Interest, in denying to ourselves whatever is dearest to us, if at any time the Publick Good so requires.122
Farther; that great Joy, in which great Part of the Happiness of every particular Man consists, is founded in the Consciousness, of our having endeavour’d in our past Life, and of our firm Resolution and Disposition of endeavouring for the future, to please both God and Men; and in a sincere Will to contribute to, and rejoice in, the Happiness of all others. So that it is impossible, that he who seeks such Happiness to himself, should be found guilty of selfishness. For in this manner he repays others the Happiness he has receiv’d from them, as a River returns into the Ocean the Waters it has thence receiv’d.
(Hobbes denies, That the Laws of Nature, in a State of Nature, oblige to external Actions, and that for want of Security.)§L. Having, as I hope, at length remov’d those Difficulties, which seem’d to weaken some Part of my Method of deducing the Laws of Nature, and their Obligation; let us now proceed to examine Hobbes’s Principles, by which “he endeavours to destroy intirely all Obligation of the Laws of Nature to external Actions, and so leaves them only the Name of Laws, and that but improperly; and allows every one a Right in the State of Nature to violate them at pleasure, that is, as often as the Authority of the State is either silent, or can be evaded.”123 He offers only one Reason in the Places referr’d to, for wholly denying their Obligation, in that State, to external Actions; Because “we cannot be secure, that others will observe them, in those things which respect our Preservation”; Hence he infers, “That every one’s whole Hope of Security consists in this, that he should prevent his Neighbour by his own Force or Contrivance, either openlyor treacherously.” This is that unanswerable Argument, which he thinks strong enough to break intirely the whole Force of the Laws of Nature, out of the bounds of Civil Society. For, tho’ he would seem to leave them some Power, to oblige in the internal Court of Conscience to the Study of Peace, it is evident, that he expresses himself thus, only to throw a Mist before the Eyes of his unwary Reader; for, since almost all the Laws of Nature relate only to external Acts, and impose only these Commands, “Not to arrogate all things by such Acts, but to abstain from hurting the Innocent, to observe Compacts, make grateful Returns for Benefits receiv’d,” &c. he must be blind who does not see, that the Force of these Laws is wholly taken away, where he contends, that external Actions contrary to these may be lawfully done, as in the Places above quoted, and Chap. 14. §. 9.124 and elsewhere. I answer therefore,
That Reason insufficient: For 1. Perfect Security is not necessary, to make an Obligation valid; andFirst, “That there is no Necessity of Security, (especially such as is free from all Cause of Fear,) that others shall likewise observe the Laws of Nature, in order to oblige us to external Actions in conformity to them.” The Will of the First Cause, when discover’d, by which he adds his Sanction to these Laws enjoining external Action, is in it self a sufficient Cause of Obligation to such Actions; and whilst that continues, the Obligation cannot be taken away; (the Divine Will, with respect to this, may be known by those Methods, which I have already explain’d;) altho’ the Manners of many are so deprav’d, that they often return Evil for Good.
is not afforded by Civil Government, whose Laws are confess’d to oblige to external Acts; andThis will be made clearer by a Comparison with the Obligation of Civil Laws, by which Mr. Hobbes himself will not deny, that all Subjects are bound to external Obedience. Now, tho’ all Men are not subject to the same Human Government, they are all Members of the great Society of Rational Agents, whose Governor is God. And it is obvious, “That they who are subject to the same Human Government, cannot be perfectly Secure, either that their Fellow-Subjects will observe the Laws of the State, by abstaining from Rebellion, and all Invasion of another’s property, or that their chief Governor will be both able to punish the Transgressors of his Laws, (especially when Factions happen to be powerful,) and willing to take the greatest care he can of the Publick Good.” The most Cautious of those, who have thrown off all sense of Religion, think, “If it be probable, that the Magistrate both can and will secure the Authority of his Laws, by protecting the Obedient, and punishing the Disobedient, that there is all the Security necessary to oblige us to observe those Laws.” Men of Piety towards God, (who are incomparably the best Subjects,) do indeed go farther, and think “The Obligation of Civil Laws sufficiently firm, altho’ both the Power of the Magistrate should be suspected, and his Will prove defective, with respect to many points of his Duty, provided that from their Obedience they procure to themselves Tranquillity of Mind, and a well-grounded Hope of the Divine Favour”; or (in a word) “whilst the natural Proofs of Obligation to promote the Common Good remain unshaken.” From this Comparison it is therefore evident, “That, if Hobbes’s Reasoning were conclusive, all Obligation of Civil Laws would at the same time be destroy’d”; and it is impossible, but that their Force should be enervated by all Principles, which destroy or lessen the Force of the Laws of Nature, because in these is founded, both the Authority and Security of Civil Government, and the Energy of Civil Laws.
is an Impossibility.I add; Whoever requires absolute or perfect Security, concerning future Human Actions, whether in a State of Nature, or under Civil Government, requires an Impossibility; for the Actions of Men are in their own Nature Contingent.
2. There is a greater comparative Security in the State of Nature, by observing its Laws in our External Actions, than by entering into Hobbes’s State of War.§LI. Secondly, if by Security be meant a State of greater Freedom from fear and hazard of Misery; I affirm, (and the Proof appears from what I have said concerning the Indications of Obligation,) “That God has manifested to all, that, even out of Civil Society, he will be freer from all kind of Evils consider’d together, who shall constantly observe the Laws of Nature by external Actions, than he, who, according to Mr. Hobbes’s Doctrine, shall aim at Security to himself, by endeavouring to prevent all others by Force or Fraud”;125 and therefore, “this comparative Security is afforded by God to all, even consider’d in a State of Nature.”
In the Comparison, all Evils and Dangers should be taken into the account.We must, however, when we compare the Dangers or Security of the Just (such are they only, who observe the Laws of Nature, even in their external Actions) and of the Unjust, in order to observe which of them has the greatest Security, take into the account, not only those Evils, which both are liable to from other Men; but those also, which the Unjust bring upon themselves, by an inconstant and inconsistent manner of Life, by irregular Affections, Envy, Anger, Intemperance, &c. and those beside, which may with reason be fear’d from God. Nor are these to be compar’d in one Case, or in a few Circumstances only, but in all Cases and Circumstances which can happen through the whole course of our Existence: For it is otherwise impossible we should form a true Judgment, which State of Life, whether uniform Justice, or Injustice in all its inconsistent Forms, be most secure. I have already prov’d, “That their Condition is the Happiest, who steddily observe the Law of Nature in all their Actions”; and I will not repeat the Proof.
Hobbes, inconsistently with his own Scheme, acknowledges some Things, that shew our Obligation to observe the Law of Nature in external Actions, viz. That they who do otherwise,However, I thought fit hereto add, “That Mr. Hobbes himself,(altho’, where he treats of the Security requisite to the Observance of the Laws of Nature, he insists wholly upon Security from the Invasion of other Men, and contends, because that is not to be had, that therefore no-one is oblig’d to external Acts of Justice, but that every one has a Right to all Things, and a Right of Warring against every one, Chap. 5. §. 1.126 ) elsewhere, as it were forgetting himself, acknowledges some things, but very sparingly, which prove him sensible of a sufficient Obligation, even to an external Conformity with the Law of Nature, lest we should fall into other Evils, beside those which may be apprehended from the Invasion of Men.” As for Example, when he endeavours to prove, “That we ought to keep Faith with all,” (De Cive C. 3. §. 2, 3.) he gives this Reason, That “he who breaks his Compact, falls into a Contradiction”; which he acknowledges to be an absurdity in Human Practice.127 Since therefore, in this Instance, he allows it to be better, not to break, than to break,1. fall into a Contradiction a Compact, lest we fall into a Contradiction; what reason is there, why we may not infer Universally, “Concerning every Law of Nature, and its Obligation, even to external Actions, that it is better, not to violate it by any external Actions in the State of Nature, than to violate it; because the Violation thereof necessarily brings along with it a Contradiction and Absurdity in Practice?” For whoever diligently considers the Nature of all Beings, especially Rational, must acknowledge, that all his possible Happiness naturally depends upon the Common Happiness, as upon its adequate Cause; and he wills, therefore, to seek them both jointly: But, whensoever he breaks any Law of Nature, he wills to separate his own Good from that of the Publick, which implies a Contradiction, and raises a Civil War in the breast of Man, and miserably disturbs his Tranquillity. That Misery is no contemptible Part of the Punishment naturally inflicted for Crimes, and destroys the Security of the Criminal.
2. bring on themselves Punishments annex’d by God to such Violation in the ordinary Course of Nature.Of a piece with this is what he acknowledges (Leviath. Chap. 31. §. last but one), “That there are Natural Punishments, with which, Transgressions of the Laws of Nature are punish’d in the ordinary Course of Nature”; and in the English Edition he expressly acknowledges them to proceed from God; so Violence is punish’d by foreign Force, Intemperance by Diseases, &c. In the Latin Edition this Passage is somewhat maim’d; yet there he acknowledges Natural Punishments.128 But, if these Punishments follow the Violations of the Laws of Nature by external Actions, from the inseparable Connexion of Things appointed by God, without all doubt these Laws will oblige Men to external Actions conformable to them. For Punishment cannot be inflicted upon any one for an Action to which he was not oblig’d; and Security is in vain fought for by preventing others by Force or Fraud, if God has appointed a Punishment to such an Invasion.
Tho’ Security were to be estimated, in relation only to Hazards from Men; the external Observance of the Law of Nature were a more probable way of obtaining it, than a violent or fraudulent Prevention of others.§LII. Altho’ the Security of Just Men were to be estimated from the consideration of those Hazards only, which might be expected from other Men, (which, however, is very false;) I think it evident, “That there remains more Security to all Just Men, consider’d thro’ all the parts of Life, than to all Unjust Men who would seek for Security, according to Hobbes’s Advice, by preventing others by Force or Fraud, if all Circumstances relating to them be likewise consider’d.” Nor do some Examples to the contrary prove it to be otherwise; two Sices have been often thrown at the first Cast of two Dice, tho’ it is certain, there are 35 Chances to that one.129
Because I have before prov’d this at large, I will here add only two Arguments, which bear particularly hard upon Mr. Hobbes.
1. From the Presumption of Civil Laws, “That Men are Good, ’till the contrary be prov’d.”The first of these is suggested by the Presumption of Civil Laws in our own and all other States; which shews, what Rulers think of Human Nature. Every Man is presum’d to be good, ’till the contrary be prov’d fromsome Action sufficiently testified. But, because Mr. Hobbes every where affirms, “That the Reason of the State, or of the supreme Magistrate, only is right and true”; he must needs acknowledge, “That other Men ought not to be esteem’d so grossly wicked, that we should kill them, tho’ yet innocent, for our own Security.” They ought rather to be reckon’d so good, that we may safely keep Faith and Peace with them; safer certainly, than by rushing into a War against All. This Presumption is of greater force against Hobbes, because he resolves that Security, which he acknowledges to be found sufficient in Civil States, into those Punishments, by which the Magistrates restrain all Invaders of the Rights of others. Now it is certain, no Punishments are inflicted in any Government, but according to the Sentence of Judges, who always give Judgment according to this Presumption. Either therefore this Presumption is true, and, consequently, fit to direct Actions in the State of Nature, or there is not even in Civil States a sufficient Security afforded, by Punishments inflicted only according to this Presumption; and, consequently, even Civil Laws do not oblige to external Actions, and so all States would be dissolv’d. But we experience, “That Publick Judgments, given according to this Presumption, do for the most part secure the Life of Man; much more certainly, than if they presum’d all who were brought before their Tribunal to be publick Enemies, and adjudg’d them all to Death, by Hobbes’s method of Anticipation.” Whence it follows, “That even the private Judgments of particular Persons made concerning others, according to this Presumption, do conduce more to the Security of All, than that rash Presumption of Hobbes’s, which persuades to prevent all others by Force or Fraud.”
2. From hence, that Hobbes’s Universal War is the necessary Consequence of an Universal Violation of the Laws of Nature in external Actions.§LIII. The second Argument which proves, “That the Violation of the Laws of Nature, by external Actions in order to prevent others, affords less Security, than an exact Observance of them,” is brought from this; “that from hence,” as Hobbes himself confesses, “will necessarily follow a War of each against all”; and the Consequence is undoubted, if all would take his advice, “that such a War would be inevitable, tho’ it were no where Just.” This War once suppos’d, he very justly acknowledges, “That all would immediately be most miserable, and quickly be destroy’d”; whence I infer, “That in vain is Security sought or hop’d for in this Method,” contrary to Hobbes’s Doctrine, who tells us, De Cive. C. 5. §. 1. and Leviath. Chap. 13. That, “While Men are afraid of one another, no Body can have a better Security, than by Prevention, so that every one should endeavour to oppress all others either by Violence or Fraud, while there are any remaining to be afraid of, ” that is, ’till there remains not one Man but himself, and the Earth is become the common Sepulchre of all the rest.130 No Man can procure Aid in this State, because mutual Compacts, by which only one can enter Society with others, will oblige no-one to external Actions in this State, de Cive. C. 2. §. 11.131 There is, therefore, no Security by this method of Anticipation: And therefore, if there be but the least Security in the Nature, Reason, or Conscience of Men, or, if but even a few of them do ever so little incline to promote the Common Good, (in which their own Happiness is contain’d,) they will spare the innocent and benevolent Person, who endeavours by outward Actions to deserve well of them all, and so his Security will be greater than can be expected by Anticipation, because that is certainly none at all.
Nay, Hobbes himself acknowledges, “There may be one at least in his State of Nature, who, according to natural Equality, will permit to others the same undisturb’d Enjoyment of all Things which he claims to himself. ”132 Now, if but a few such Men should associate themselves by mutual Compacts, which they will acknowledge valid for the sake of that Common Good they all endeavour to promote, those few will easily defend themselves from all others at Enmity and War amongst themselves.
Hobbes gives every Man a Right to commit Treason, which he asserts, not to be a Transgression of the Law Civil, but Natural, which, according to him, does not oblige to external Acts.That Hobbes did not perceive, “That those numberless Evils of a State of War of each against all, are sufficient to deter all in a State of Nature from that mad desire of preventing all others,” is very surprizing; because he has asserted nothing else beside the Evils of such a War, to deter Men, who have already erected themselves into a Civil State, from Treason and Sedition, by which the State is dissolv’d, and all Obligation of Civil Laws is taken away. For he contends, “That the Sin, which by the Law of Nature is Treason, is a Transgression of the Law of Nature, not of the Law of the State—and therefore, that Rebels and Traitors are punish’d, not as bad Subjects, but as Enemies of the State, not by Right of Empire, but by Right of War.”133 I take notice here by the way only, that those two Laws, that of the State, and that of Nature, are too crudely and rashly set in opposition to one another. Nay, it is dangerous, and tends to Sedition, to affirm, “That Treason is not a Transgression of the Law of the State, and that Rebels are not punish’d as evil Subjects, by Right of Empire”; but I will not here insist any longer upon this Point.134 I ask of Mr. Hobbes, “Whether this Punishment to be inflicted by Right of War, namely, Death, or the Hazard thereof, be a sufficient Proof, that the Law of Nature concerning keeping Compacts, and, in consequence, abstaining from Treason, is obligatory as to external Actions?” If he denies it, he allows a Right to commit Treason; and leaves no natural Proof, by which that Law can be known to oblige Subjects to abstain from Rebellion. If he affirms, “That this Punishment sufficiently proves the Obligation of Subjects to observe Compacts by external Actions,” let him tell me, “Why the same Punishment, to be inflicted in a State of Nature by a like Right of War, does not sufficiently prove a like Obligation to observe Compacts by external Actions with all others out of Society?” And the Reason is the same, with respect to all the other Laws of Nature. Hobbes is confus’d upon this Head; for in the Latin Edition of his Leviathan, in the last Consequence drawn from his Definition of Punishment, he expresses himself thus, “Harm inflicted upon one that is a declar’d Enemy, falls not under the Name of Punishment, because Enemies are not Subjects:Altho’ they had formerly been Subjects, yet, if they afterwards profess themselves Enemies, they suffer, not as Subjects, but as Enemies. From whence it follows, that, if a Subject shall by Fact or Word, wittingly and deliberately, deny the Authority of the Representative of the Common-Wealth, (whatsoever Penalty hath been formerly order’d by the Law for Treason,) he may be lawfully made to suffer by an arbitrary Punishment, as an Enemy, seeing he hath now profess’d himself an Enemy of the State.”135 In these Words there are many Passages deserving Censure, which yet all follow from what he had before advanc’d in his Treatise De Cive, in the Place above quoted136 : I will take notice of a few of them only. 1. He contradicts himself, when, in the Beginning of them, “He does not comprehend under the Name of Punishment the Evil inflicted upon an Enemy,” and at the latter End affirms, “That a Rebel, who has already declar’d himself an Enemy, is punish’d, as an Enemy, by an arbitrary Punishment”: For an arbitrary Punishment is comprehended under the Name of Punishment. 2. It deserves Censure, “That he would not have the Evil inflicted on an open Enemy called Punishment.” For it follows, “That the Evil inflicted upon a Rebel for Treason, because he has already declar’d himself an Enemy of the State, is not Punishment.” Certainly Punishment is nothing else than Evil inflicted for the Transgression of the Law; and he that denies Evil inflicted to be Punishment, denies it to be inflicted for a Crime, or Transgression of the Law; and insinuates, “That an Enemy, and consequently a Rebel, who is now become an Enemy, does not suffer for a Crime, or that he has either not broken any Law, or that he has not, for the Breach thereof, deserv’d Punishment.” And, truly, since all Enemies are in Hobbes’s State of Nature, he speaks agreeably to his own Principles, if he says they are not guilty of any Crime; because they have a Right to do any thing: But Rebels, according to his Doctrine, are Enemies, and, therefore, they are not to be charg’d with any Crime. Yet they may be put to Death Arbitrarily, but not punish’d, unless you would, with Hobbes, contradict what was said before. So unavoidably does Hobbes free Rebels from the Punishment and Guilt of their Crimes, who allows “to Enemies of all kinds a Right to all Things”; and denies, “that the Laws of Nature” (whereof Treason is one Transgression) “oblige to external Actions.” And he allows “no proper Punishment of Rebellion,” who denies, “that the Evils of War, into which any one hath thrown himself by violating the Laws of Nature, are Punishments”; and who contends, “that Hostile Anticipation, by Force and Fraud, which gives rise to such War, is the readiest way to Security.” I think, however, that I have prov’d, “That the external Acts of Innocence, Fidelity, Gratitude, and the Aids which they procure, afford any one greater Security out of Civil Society; and that it is therefore better for all, even in a State of Nature, to abstain from invading others, than to endeavour to prevent them by Force or Fraud.”
Farther; Hobbes Himself acknowledges, “That such comparative Security is sufficient to oblige to external Acts of Obedience to be paid to the Laws, not of Nature only, but also to all those of the State”; for, where he purposely describes this Security, he has these Words; “Nothing else can be contriv’d for this Purpose,” (namely, sufficient Security,) “but that every one should procure to himself sufficient aid, by which the Invasion of one another should be render’d so dangerous, that each should think it more adviseable to keep Peace, than make War.”137 It is evident, that this Security is not perfect, but that all its force consists in this, that, if the Dangers on both sides be fairly compar’d with one another, it may appear less hazardous, to keep Peace, than make War. Altho’ I readily grant, “That those Aids which may be procur’d in Civil Society by means of that Fidelity, which most Subjects are wont to yield their Magistrates, do generally render the Invasion of a Fellow-subject much more hazardous”; yet I affirm, “That, without this Assistance of Civil Aid, there is sufficient Reason, why every one should think it more adviseable to abstain from Invading others, than to engage in a War against all, for the sake of such things as are not necessary.” Hobbes must needs own “the Danger arising from such a War, greater than all other Dangers,” and therefore “sufficient to deter any one, in a State of Nature, from invading others”; because, upon his Principles, “the Prospect of Evils threatening all from such a War, is the only Reason which deters all, after they have enter’d into Civil Society, from trampling upon the Laws of the State, as well as of Nature, and from dissolving all States by Rebellion, and so relapsing into a State of Nature.”
If “every Man be the sole Judge of Right and Wrong in his own Actions,” then Hobbes’s Distinction, “That the Laws of Nature oblige to Internal, but not to External, Actions,” is vain.§LIV. I see nothing that Hobbes can reply to this, except he will shelter himself under that Principle peculiar to himself, which I have already refuted; namely, “In this State every one is a Judge of his own Actions, whether they are done according to Right and Justice, or not: But he will affirm concerning the Violation of the Laws of Nature, That they are made in order to his own Preservation, and with the View of procuring Peace. Therefore they are rightfully made.”138 Thence is deriv’d what he adds, That “The Notion of Just and Unjust in the State of Nature, is not to be taken from the Actions, but from the Design and Conscience of the Agents. What is done thro’ Necessity, or a desire of Peace, or for Self-preservation, is rightfully done.”139
1. If he will abide by that Opinion, I thus answer, “That, if this Principle could be depended upon, whoever had no Inclination to observe the Law of Nature in external Acts, needs not have recourse to this Distinction, which supposes him oblig’d to observe it in internal Acts only, that is, in the Approbation and Desire of his Mind.” For, since the Person himself is Judge, he may with equal safety allow, “That the Law obliges to external Acts,” and then either deny the Fact, or say, it was no Violation of the Law of Nature. For it is evident, That the Sentence of a Judge concerning Fact, is of no less validity than concerning Right, or the Law. It can as well make an unjust Fact, a Just one, or no Fact at all; as it can do what he says it does, give a Man a Right to do any thing against any one, for this reason only, because, “Since he himself is Judge, he thus determines concerning his Right, and concerning the use of things necessary to his own Preservation.” A cautious Deduction of the Laws of Nature is evidently in vain, whilst Mr. Hobbes’s Man continues in his State of Nature. For every Determination of his concerning things necessary to the Preservation of his Life, is a Law, and gives him a Right to do any thing, altho’ that very Determination should contradict a thousand others affirm’d by himself.
2. Secondly, I suppose, what Hobbes himself supposes in this Deliberation, “That the Man has not yet come to any arbitrary and rash Resolution, but that he now doubts, and would make a cautious inquiry, whether it were better to keep Peace, or make War?” That is, supposing others to have an equal, or not much different Right, “Whether it would more probably contribute to his Happiness, Government being not yet settled, to cultivate Peace with others, by permitting them to enjoy all natural Advantages equally with himself, by lending them his Assistance, when it can be done conveniently; in a word, by acting according to the Laws of Nature?” Or rather “slighting the equal or proportional Right of others, to begin or continue against all indifferently an offensive War, in order to subject every thing to himself?” Truly, if I have any Judgment, the Question is not very difficult; for a Man of moderate Understanding will easily perceive, “That there can be no Safety in so unjust a War, which one wages against all; but that there is some, tho’ doubtful, Hope founded in the Dictates of Reason teaching all, that an universal Proposal and Pursuit of the Common Good as their End, would promote the Common Happiness,” and consequently, “that of all particular Persons.” This is likewise confirm’d by Experience. We have Instances of it in all bordering States, who can sometimes continue in Peace for a long time together, (as it is the Interest of all, so to do,) tho’ they have no common Superior but God.
Hobbes denies, “That the Laws of Nature, even that of observing Compacts, obliges the Rulers of different States to external Actions conformable to them.” His Words are express, “The State of Independent Governments, with respect to one another, is a State of Nature, that is, of Hostility. Nor, if they cease to fight, is it therefore to be called Peace, but a Breathing-time; in which each Adversary, watching the Motions and Countenance of the other, judges of his Security, not from Compacts, but from the Force and Councils of his Adversary.”140 And elsewhere thus, to the same purpose; “What else are most Republicks but so many Camps mutually guarded and fortified against one another; whose State (because they are restrain’d by no common Power, notwithstanding the Intervention of uncertain Peace, like a short Truce) is to be esteem’d a State of Nature, that is, a State of War?”141 And again most expressly, to the same purpose, “That Compacts of mutual Faith, in a State of Nature, are vain and invalid; for, since by the Contract something is to be perform’d on both Sides, if either fear, that the other will not perform what he has promis’d, he is not bound to perform what he himself had covenanted to do first. But, whether his Fears be just, that the other will not perform, he who fears is himself the Judge.”142 Whence, according to his usual manner, he would conclude, “That he justly fears, whensoever he fears.” But this reason is so general, that, if it have any force, it would conclude, “That Compacts, not only in which nothing has been perform’d on either part, are invalid; but also those, in which any thing of moment remains yet to be perform’d by each Party.” For “He, who has no mind farther to perform his Contract, need only fear, (he may do it justly, since himself is Judge,) that the other will falsify his Promise; his reason therefore, which is always right, will not enjoin him to perform his Compact, but that will be plainly of no validity.” His requiring in the Note, a “new cause of Fear,”143 does not hinder Compacts to be invalid, if the Reason he brings in §. 11. holds good; for the Fear of another’s Non performance arises either from the remembrance of the evil Disposition of Mankind, which he who now fears had not sufficiently consider’d before the Compact; or he takes any the most innocent Act of the other for a sufficient Proof of his Intention, not to perform. Nor is there any thing in a State of Nature, which can make a fearful Man perfectly secure of the Fidelity of others, so as to oblige him to perform his Contract, which is an external Action, as Hobbes himself affirms, Chap. 5. §. 1, 2. and Chap. 7. §. 27.144“All Hope,” says he, “of Security is plac’d in the Power of preventing others by Force or Fraud.”145 This is that notable Discovery, in which Hobbes excels even his Master Epicurus, who thought he had sufficiently subverted Justice, when he asserted in his Maxims, “That there was no Justice among those Nations, who either could not, or would not, enter into mutual Compacts, neither to give nor receive Damage; but left the Force of Compacts unshaken, tho’ no common Governor presided over both Nations.”146Hobbes ascribes even this Force to his darling Passion, Fear, “That in a State of Nature,” (such as is that of different States,) “it may justly violate Compacts of mutual Faith.”
The Security of Ambassadors, of Commerce, of the Rights of Hospitality, and of Leagues, is detroy’d by Hobbes.§LV. From this Doctrine it is easy to deduce the greatest Inconveniences to all Mankind. The Safety of Ambassadors, how innocent soever, is immediately destroy’d. The whole Force of Leagues between Princes and different States, is taken away; Hobbes expressly pronounces them “vain and invalid.” Finally, all Security of Merchants, and, consequently, all Commerce, with the Rights of Hospitality necessary to Travellers, are intirely overthrown; and there remains no Security to small States from the Power of the Greater. Consequences, all contrary to daily Experience; for we daily see Leagues enter’d into, to be perform’d at a distant Time, which are therefore “Compacts,” as he calls them, “of mutual Faith.” Nay, Ambassadors, Merchants, and other Travellers into foreign States, are safe enough, altho’, according to this Doctrine, they are Enemies, and have put themselves in the Power of Foreigners: For Hobbes reasons thus, “That Foreigners, as being stronger, may justly compel these being weaker to give Security for their future Obedience,” (except they would rather die;) and that “nothing can be thought of more absurd, than by letting him go, to make him at once both strong and an Enemy, whom you have weak in your Power.”147 These Words, “Security for their future Obedience,” plainly enough insinuate what he afterwards expressly declares, “That no Security seems to him sufficient, but that Union, by which Men become Members of the same State, and in all things subject to the same Government”;148 which how ill it agrees with the Rights of Ambassadors and of Commerce, every one sees. But, if all Ambassadors and others who Travel abroad, both could rightfully, and would, subject themselves to others in all respects; no Law of Nature (according to Hobbes’s Doctrine) could oblige Foreigners to any external Acts of Benevolence, but it would be free for them to chuse, “Whether they would signify by any external Act, their acceptance of this Surrender, or would rather feast their Eyes with the Blood of Innocents.” These Consequences, I suppose, will not move Mr. Hobbes, or those his Disciples, who are throughly instructed in the more hidden Mysteries of his Philosophy. For these, and innumerable other such, Corollaries they both plainly perceive, and earnestly desire: However, I thought it proper slightly to glance at them, and expose them to view, that they whose Tastes are not yet so throughly deprav’d may try, whether their Reason, and every thing Human about them, is not shock’d at such monstrous Opinions.
Innumerable Advantages, both to private Persons and to States, without the Influence of Civil Society, from observing the Laws of Nature.My present View is only to prove from the Actions of Men, as from Effects known by Observation and constant Experience, “That there generally accrue greater Advantages, both to every particular Person (abstractedly from the Influence of Civil Society,) and to different States, from Innocence, Gratitude, Fidelity, Humanity, and other Virtues enjoin’d by the Law of Nature, than from Violence, Ingratitude, Perfidiousness, and other Vices thereby forbid; that our natural Obligation to observe these Laws in our external Actions, may evidently appear, not only from the intrinsecal Pleasures of Virtue, but from these Advantages, as from a natural Reward; and from the opposite Evils annex’d as Punishments to such Actions, by the very Nature of Men.” We see great Numbers, who are not particularly Interested, run voluntarily to extinguish a House a-fire, without any constraint of the Civil Laws. We see daily, Lies, Frauds, Oppression, that have never been brought before, much less punish’d by, a Court of Judicature, render their Authors so odious, often so contemptible and wretched, that the very Disgrace and the Difficulties, and want of Friends, consequent there on, are justly reckon’d among their Punishments. It has also often happen’d, that they, whose Crimes have justly render’d them odious, have prefer’d Death to Life with Infamy; and that others (wickedly enough inclin’d) abstain from many Crimes, merely to avoid Infamy: In like manner we may observe, that Obedience to the Laws of Nature obtain’d in Heathen Rome the name of Honestas, from that Honour which most are wont to confer upon good Men, without the Injunction of Civil Laws. Innumerable are the Advantages, which, without the Authority of the Laws, at the pleasure of private Persons only, daily accrue to the Innocent, Grateful, Faithful, and Benevolent, rather than to the Wicked,(as in the Contracts of doing Business for them gratuitously, being Bound, or giving Pledges for them, of Lending them without Interest, and of Partnerships with them; or in taking Care of their Families as Executors, or even in making them their Heirs or Legatees:) and these sufficiently shew, “That Men naturally incline to reward Virtue.” As for different States, which are perfectly in a State of Nature, it is evident, 1. Tho’ sometimes Wars happen between them, that they are not therefore on both Sides just, which both the contending Parties confess, tho’ one Side only can justly wage War.149 And 2. which I here chiefly regard, That no-one ever yet saw, or has met with it in the most antient Records, that All States waged War against All, which yet Hobbes boasts that he has demonstrated.150 3. Nay, we see that many States have for many Years most religiously observ’d Leagues of mutual Faith with other States, to the Improvement and carrying on in time of Peace, a Commerce very advantageous to both sides, and that they have mutually assisted one another, as occasion requir’d in War, tho’ they thereby expos’d themselves to Danger. This is so notorious, that it would be superfluous to quote Examples from History, since there has scarce ever been any considerable War carried on, but that on one side at least, if not on both, Confederates from other States have undergone some part of the Hazard.
No State should either be establish’d or preserv’d by such Men, as Mr. Hobbes contends that all men are.§LVI. To this, if any one thinks fit to reply, “That this is done, in order to balance in some measure the Powers of different States, for fear they themselves should at length be destroy’d by the overgrown Greatness of any one”; I answer, “That in this place I inquire concerning Fact only, whether it be usual for Men, in a State of Nature, to do good Offices to one another, and to perform Compacts of mutual Faith, even when accompanied with Hazard”; and that, from this Fact allow’d, I would infer, “That like Things may in like Cases with probability be expected from Men; and that, therefore, Compacts of mutual Faith, even in that State, are not in vain; and that he does not act unreasonably, who first performs what he covenanted to do.” I prove this Fact, and draw this Inference, in order to shew, “That one Man may reasonably do the first good Office to another (tho’ subject to a different State,) and lies under no necessity to invade him, as a threatening Beast of Prey.” Hobbes indeed alledges, “That one Man is a Wolf to another,” (except they be both under the same Civil Government,) in a stricter sense than that of the Proverb; so that, in our first Intercourse with others, we should necessarily be as Savage as Brutes. (see his Epistle Dedicatory to his Treatise De Cive.151 ) But this Expression is in the Epistolary manner, too soft, too full of Compliment. He tells us afterwards, where he is Philosophizing strictly, “That Man exceeds Wolves, Bears, Serpents, (who are ravenous only to satify their Hunger, and upon Provocation,) in Rapacity and Cruelty.”152 I look upon these Expressions as unjust Reproaches of Mankind, (whether justly or no, let any Reader of Humanity judge,) and contrary to all Experience. Yet upon these Principles has Hobbes built all his Politicks.
And, if they were true, it were evidently impossible, “To reduce such Beasts of Prey, always thirsting after the Blood of their Fellows, into a Civil State.” For Hobbes’s Method of effecting this by Compacts, “by which each Individual is said to transfer to the Magistrate his Right of resisting,” will effect nothing. For such Animals cannot be so contain’d within the bounds of their Duty, by the Conscience of Compacts or Promises, but that they would immediately re-demand and resume the Power before conferr’d upon the Prince. But, if the greatest Part of the Subjects have a mind to make void those Compacts, by which they had constituted a Prince, the whole Force of restraining by Punishments the Violation of plighted Faith, vanishes; on account of which Force only, Hobbes contends, that Compacts are binding in Civil Society, which in a State of Nature did not oblige to external Actions. If Men were as Faithless as he represents them, they could contribute no Power to the Prince whom they had chosen, either to punish Rebellion against himself, or Injuries done his Subjects; and, therefore, according to his Principles, a State would almost as soon be dissolv’d for want of Security, as it had been establish’d, and all would relapse into that State of War, which he pretends to be Natural.
Upon Hobbes’s Principles, the obligatory Force of Compacts cannot be accounted for.)It is necessary, “That Compacts should oblige to those external Acts, which gave and continue to the Prince the Power of punishing the Transgressors of his Laws.” But “these Compacts cannot receive this obligatory Force from the Prince already establish’d and continued.” For the Powers of the Cause are prior to the Powers of the Effect produc’d by that Cause; it is therefore necessary, “that the Force of those Compacts, by which a State is establish’d, should be resolv’d into something prior, both in Nature and in Time, to that Power of punishing, which a State has after it is establish’d.” Nor can any adequate Cause of such an Effect be found, except the Nature of Men, and the Will and Nature of the First Cause thence in some measure discover’d. If these be not sufficient to produce in the Mind of every Man, a knowledge of, and reverence for, the Laws of Nature; and to model even his outward Behaviour to Innocence, Fidelity, and Gratitude; it is in vain to expect that a bad Man will become a good Subject. When the Foundation is undermin’d, the Building, however elegant, rais’d thereon, falls to the ground; and vitiated Chyle can never become healthful Blood.153 So much may suffice for the Definition and Obligation of the Laws of Nature in General.
From the foregoing Data is concluded, That there is given one Fundamental Law of Nature, That the Common Good of Rational Beings is to be promoted.§LVII. I will here lay before the Reader the Substance of what I have advanc’d upon this Head, reduc’d into one Proposition, in imitation of Euclid’s Data, (which are best adapted to Practice,) That, it appearing manifestly from the Nature of Things, that the Common Good of Rational Beings is the greatest Good in the Power of Man; and that the diligent Pursuit thereof will be naturally rewarded with the greatest Happiness attainable by each particular Person, and, on the contrary, that the neglect thereof will be punish’d with Misery proportionable: it appears evidently, That it was the Will of the First Cause, to oblige Men to a diligent Pursuit of that Good: Or, which comes to the same Thing, There is given a Promulgationof the first and most general Law of Nature. Or thus briefly, There being given a Knowledge of the necessary Dependence of the Happiness of particular Persons, upon the Pursuit of the Common Good; it appears evidently, That each particular Person is oblig’d to pursue that Good. This Proposition is prov’d evidently, from the bare Definitions which I have already given of the Law of Nature, and of Obligation.
The Phenomena of Nature relating to that Proposition reduc’d into one Lemma.That all these Things are Given or appear manifestly, which are suppos’d in the Subject of this Proposition, I have abundantly prov’d from the Phenomena of the Nature of all Things, and especially of Man; the Sum of which is contain’d in this Fundamental Lemma. He who, as far as is in his Power, best consults the Good of the whole Body of Rational Agents, does, likewise, best consult the Good of those Parts of that Whole, which are essential thereto, and receive all from its Influence; and, consequently, of himself in particular: Because, for the most part, it is in the Power of any one to contribute more to the flourishing Condition of his own Mind and Body, without hurting others, than to that of any other; and this increases the Happiness of the whole aggregate Body.
The Lemma prov’d, as to the external Causes of Happiness.It is very well known, “That the Happiness, especially the External, of every Individual, depends upon the Aid, or at least upon the Permission, of almost all other Rational Beings, at least remotely, and in part.” We find by Experience, “That the Will of the First Cause has so complicated all the Parts and Powers of the System of the World, that there is nothing which may not give either Force or Opposition to any other Body whatsoever, either now or hereafter.” This Complication is yet more conspicuous in Human Powers, because their Faculties are more extensive, upon account of the additional Force, which the Powers of our Mind give to our Bodily Motions. I cannot illustrate this Point better, than by a Comparison with a Balance. It is evident, that the smallest Particles of a Weight laid in one Scale, contribute something to the Counterpoizing an equal Weight, how great soever, laid in the opposite Scale; it adds both Force to its own Side, and Opposition to the contrary. So, in Nature, according to the Aristotelian Hypothesis, every Particle of the Earth contributes something to the Poizing the whole Earth upon its Center: Or, if the Cartesian Hypothesis seem more Philosophical, every Part of this Vortex, in which we are whirl’d, is, as it were, in a Balance reverse, upon account of the Centrifugal Force of all the Parts; and, in Proportion to its quantity of Matter and Motion, contributes somewhat to that Equilibrium or Poize between the Parts of the whole System jointly consider’d, by which the whole System is preserv’d.154In like manner Politicians are wont to consider the Powers of different States, as counterpoizing one another; to which it is owing, that they are not able to destroy one another. Just so, if particular Men be consider’d without any Common Governor, to which they are subject, (which is the Case of different States,) yet there is a certain Proportion between those natural Powers of Defence and their natural Necessities: And the same Arguments, which move different States to exercise mutual Commerce, and to confederate against Common Enemies, and to endeavour to prevent one’s destroying the rest, would likewise prevail with Individuals to enter into Compacts, by which their mutual Happiness may be both secur’d and increas’d.
The Resemblance between the Cases and Conditions of all Men, is plainly Natural; and it is equally Natural for them to reason from the Dangers, as well as from the Advantages, which they observe happen to those like themselves, to like Events which may happen to themselves also. Hence all are mov’d with Hope and Fear, by means of what happens to those in like Circumstances, and unavoidably think, that he threatens them with immediate Danger, whom they see invade the Innocent; and look upon the Foundations of their own Security to be destroy’d by him, who breaks thro’ the bonds of Compacts, or of Gratitude. It is no less Natural to a Man, to be mov’d with an Argument drawn from the likeness of Cases, than it is Natural for Bodies, to be mov’d by a stroke, or a weight; for to Man, Reason is equally Natural. Nor would it be difficult to prove, “That all our Reasoning, with respect to Futurity, (by which only, deliberate Human Actions are regulated,) is drawn from such a Resemblance between Causes and their Effects, past and future.” The Condition, therefore, of their Nature will incline Individuals, to preserve Innocence, keep Faith, and exercise Gratitude. By these Methods the Powers of some will of necessity be counterpoiz’d by others; and some Friendships will be establish’d, on which the Foundations of Societies may be laid. These Methods of acting may happen, indeed, to be slighted by some for a time, and in some particular Instances; but it is certain, whenever they do so, they divest themselves, even of Reason it-self, or of the far better part of Human Nature. And the same Principles return to them, as certainly as repuls’d Nature (that is, Reason blinded for a time) returns, or as they return to themselves.155Reason therefore, which is Natural, led by the natural Resemblance of Men, inclines Men for the most part, (for the general Principles of Reason for the most part prevail among them,) to assist one another mutually, but especially to repay, to the utmost of their Power, the Benefits which they have receiv’d at the hands of others. I have laid down these Observations, in order to shew the Reason, “Why I consider’d all Mankind as one Whole, whose Parts are in some measure connected, by an obvious Resemblance of Nature and Necessities; and that there is a Probability of procuring Friendship among them, especially after one has begun, by Benevolence, to deserve well at their hands.”
As to the internal Causes of Happiness.§LVIII. The Truth of the foregoing Lemma, altho’ it be made manifest from these and other foregoing Observations, with respect to the outward Helps of Human Happiness, appears yet more clearly in those parts of our Happiness, which lie principally in every Man’s own Power; that is, in a Tranquillity of Mind consistent with it-self in all things, in the Government of the Passions, and the pleasing Reflexion upon good Actions, or a Joy, that it has with its utmost endeavours pursu’d the best End, by the properest Means; and in a well-grounded Hope of the Divine Favour.
Other Advantages, which we cannot procure by Benevolent Actions, are excluded, as things not in our Power, by the very Words of the Lemma, whose Truth therefore they cannot render uncertain, tho’ they themselves be uncertain. For it is not to be expected, “That things impossible to Man should be natural Rewards of Human Actions promoting the Common Good”: It is abundantly sufficient to prove, “That the Author of Nature would oblige us to promote the Common Good”; because “He has ascertain’d the Rewards I have mention’d; and has beside given a greater Certainty, that we shall, by this Method, procure the Benevolence and Assistance of Men, than that we should secure our-selves by attacking all others by Force or Fraud.” These Effects of the Actions of other Men, are in their own Nature contingent, and, therefore, Human Reason performs its part, if it directs us to make that Choice, which will most probably happen. The value of a probable Gain is certain, (as is evident, not only in Games of Hazard, but also in Agriculture, Merchandize, and in almost every thing, about which Human Industry is employ’d;) and this is the natural Reward of the more prudent Choice. Altho’ therefore he who has aim’d at securing himself by Hobbes’s Methods of Force and Fraud, may sometimes escape Mischiefs, which Prudence would rather expect should have overwhelm’d him; or may even procure some Advantages, which he who acts more prudently may fall short of; yet these Events do not prove, that his Reasonings were more Just, nor that Nature generally bestows these Rewards upon such Actions. Just as it may happen, “That he who has undertaken to throw two Sices at the first Cast with two Dice, may get the better of him who laid an equal Wager, that he would not do it”; yet it is demonstrable, from the Nature or cubical Figure of a Die, “That the odds are 35 to one; and that therefore the Expectation of the one is worth so much more than that of the other; and that this difference between the Value of the Chances may be justly esteem’d as the Advantage or natural Reward of the more prudent Choice.”156 The like Judgment is to be made of Damage, in the Nature of Punishment, sustain’d by an imprudent Choice. But, if an Illustration from Nature would be more agreeable, (tho’ here the matter cannot be reduc’d to exact Calculation,) it is at hand. The Stomach and Intestines by digesting the Nourishment, the Liver by separating the Bile, the Heart by its Contraction and Dilatation, are of immediate use to the Health of the whole Body, and at the same time preserve their own sound State in the best manner they are able: Yet it may happen, thro’ the Disease or Defect of other Parts, that they may be defrauded of their due Nourishment, without any Fault of their own. But, because that will more certainly be effected, if they be wanting to the whole Body, the Preservation they generally gain by performing their Offices, is a kind of Image of a Natural Reward, and may therefore serve to illustrate our purpose.
The knowledge of this Lemma imprinted on our Minds, by the Will of the First Cause,But, because the knowledge of this most certain Lemma, as that of all other Truths concerning Causes and their natural Effects, is imprinted upon the Mind of Man from the Nature of Things, by the Determination of the First Cause; it is evident, “That His Will discovers this Truth to us.”
who therefore persuades to Universal Benevolence,Farther; Since the assent given to this Lemma naturally persuades and inclines us, to procure the Publick Good; it is equally true, “That the First Cause persuades the same thing in this manner.” There is no danger of our making the First Cause the Author of any Evil, whilst we esteem him the Cause of Natural and Necessary Effects only. For all Moral Evils come thro’ the Interposition of Human Ignorance, Inadvertency, or Rashness, arising from the Abuse of our Liberty. “The First Cause, therefore, persuades whatever the Judgment of Right, that is, True Reason persuades, concerning what is necessary to obtain this chief End by the properest Means.”
nay commands it.But “His Admonition, who persuades by Arguments drawn from the greatest Rewards and Punishments, which he himself, who is superior to all in Wisdom, Goodness, and Power, has annex’d to our Actions, according as they are agreeable or disagreeable to his Admonitions, is a Law”; and for this very reason, “He who thus persuades is a Law-giver.” What the Roman Senate judg’d was best to be done, tho’ it did not pass into a Law, thro’ a defect in the Number of those who were conven’d, or in the Place, or in the Time, or because of the Interposition of a Tribune, claim’d the respect due to Authority, as Dion Cassius declares, Lib. 5.157 How much rather ought that to be look’d upon as enforc’d by Authority, which the First Cause has, without any defect, discover’d as best to be done for the Common Good, and establish’d by the Sanction of Rewards and Punishments, altho’ by the Nature of Second Causes, which he himself has limited and determin’d? For his Will, for this very Reason, that it is the First, is the Supreme Cause, the Wisest, Best, and most Powerful; for other Causes can have nothing but what they receiv’d from him: And, because of his Infinite Perfection, his Will cannot disagree with the Dictates of his Understanding.
From what I have laid down it is easy to shew, “How the Laws of Nature, defin’d as above, have the Power of Commanding, Forbidding, Permitting, &c.” Nor is it difficult to reconcile my Definition with those to be met with in the most approv’d Authors, by a proper Interpretation of those doubtful Expressions, which they have made use of. But these Points I thought fit to leave to the Industry of the Reader.
General Remarks on Chapter V
The Nature of Things in the Natural World is so exactly fitted to the Natural Faculties and Dispositions of Mankind, that were any Thing in either otherwise than it is, even in Degree, Mankind would be less Happy than they now are. Thus the Dependence of all natural Effects upon a few simple Principles is wonderfully Advantageous in many respects. The Degrees of all the sensible Pleasures are exactly suited to the Use of each: So that, if we enjoy’d any of them in a greater Degree, we should be less Happy; for our Appetites of those Pleasures would by that means be too strong for our Reason; and, as we are framed, tempt us to an immoderate Enjoyment of them, so as to prejudice our Bodies. And where we enjoy some of them in so high a Degree, as that it is in many Cases very difficult for the strongest to regulate and moderate the Appetites of those Pleasures, it is in such Instances where it was necessary to counterpoize some Disadvantages, which are the Consequences of the pursuit of those Pleasures. Thus the pleasing Ideas, which accompany the Love of the Sexes, are necessary to be possess’d in so high a Degree, to balance the Cares of Matrimony, and also the Pains of Child-bearing in the Female Sex. The same may be said of our Intellectual Pleasures. Thus, did we receive a greater Pleasure from Benevolence, Sloth would be encouraged by an immoderate Bounty. And, were the Pleasures of our Inquiries into Truth greater, we should be too speculative and less active. It seems also probable, That the Degree of our Intellectual Capacity is very well suited to our Objects of Knowledge; and that, had we a greater Degree thereof, all other Things remaining as they are, we should be less Happy. Moreover; it is probably so adapted to the inward Frame of our Bodies, that it could not be greater, without either an Alteration in the Laws of Nature, or in the Laws of Union between the Soul and Body. Farther; were it much greater than it is, our Thoughts and Pursuits would be so spiritual and refined, that we should be taken too much off from the sensible Pleasures. We should, probably, be conscious of some Defects or Wants in our Bodily Organs, and would be sensible, that they were unequal to so great a Capacity, which would necessarily be follow’d by uneasiness of Mind. And this seems to hold in the Brute Creation. For methinks it would be for the Disadvantage of a Horse, to be endued with the Understanding of a Man. Such an unequal Union must be attended with continual Disquietudes and Discontents. As for our Pains, they are all either Warnings against Bodily Disorders, or are such as had we wanted them, the Laws of Nature remaining as they are, we should either have wanted some Pleasures we now enjoy, or have possessed them in a less Degree. Those Things in Nature, which we can’t reconcile to the foregoing Opinion, as being ignorant of their use, we have good reason from Analogy, to believe are really Advantageous and adapted to the Happiness of the Intelligent Beings of the System; tho’ we have not so full and compleat a Knowledge of the intire System; as to be able to point out their particular Uses. From these Observations we may conclude, “That all the various Parts of our System are so admirably suited to one another, and the Whole contrived with such exquisite Wisdom, that, were any Thing in any Part thereof in the least otherwise than it is, without an alteration in the Whole, there would be a less Sum of Happiness in the System, than there now is.” From this it follows, “That whatever would have added to our Happiness, consistently with the other Parts of our System, the Author of Nature has given us.” But we can’t imagine it impossible to Infinite Power, consistently with the other Parts of our System, to order the Consequences of Human Actions, and the Human Sourses of Pleasure in such a manner, as that Private should be perfectly connected with Publick Good. But this would contribute much to the Happiness of Mankind. Therefore there is such a Connexion. This Argument from Analogy, tho’ it is not a Demonstration, yet it is very strong, and obtains a very firm Assent. Our Belief, that the Human Bodies we daily see, are actuated by like Minds with our own, is founded upon the like Reasoning; together with numberless other Instances of Belief, which are so strong as not to be accompanied with the least Doubting.
The Argument taken from the Benevolence of God, and express’d in this manner, is, I think, inconclusive.
A perfect Connexion between Private and Publick Good would be for our Advantage. God is infinitely Benevolent. Therefore he has made such a Connexion.
For this Argument will equally conclude, that he hath given us all possible Happiness. We have not a Knowledge of the Divine Motives to Action. But, if we would indulge our-selves in Conjectures of that kind, it is probable, That he takes pleasure, not only in the Happiness of his Creatures, but in the variety of their Happiness; and that he therefore hath created a great number of Systems, the Inhabitants of each of which differ from those of another, both in the Kind and Degree of their Happiness.
II. I am of opinion, that the Author’s Scheme would have been more compleat, had he included Benevolence towards Brutes. First, because we can’t imagine, but that the Deity takes pleasure in the Happiness of all his Creatures, that are capable thereof. Neither can it be said, that the Benevolence of the Deity does not extend to them, because they are incapable of Law, and, consequently, of Rewards and Punishments. For it is highly probable, “That there are Species of Beings, whose Happiness does as much exceed ours upon the whole, as ours does that of the lowest Brute.” Farther; it is to me utterly inconceivable, that a Being, who is pleas’d with a great Degree of Happiness in another Being, shou’d not, from the same Constitution of Nature, be also pleas’d with a lesser.
The second Reason for our Benevolence towards Brutes, is, that a merciful and compassionate Behaviour towards them, feeds and cherishes that natural Disposition; whereas a barbarous and cruel Treatment of those Creatures must undoubtedly have some Effect, to harden our Temper, even against Rational Beings. Every Man that examines his own breast, will find the same tender and benevolent Disposition, tho’ in a lesser Degree, towards the lowest and most imperfect Being, that is capable of Sensation, as towards those of his own Species.
The third Reason is, that it adds to our own Happiness. A truly Benevolent Man receives pleasure, even from the Happiness of the Brute Creation. Nevertheless, it seems probable, that our Custom of killing them for Food, and of using their Labour in a moderate and merciful manner, is consistent with Benevolence, and agreeable to the Will of the Deity, because it is highly probable, that such a practice contributes to the Happiness of the whole of the sensitive System, which comprehends both Men and Brutes; besides, that Man seems to be form’d by Nature a Carnivorous Animal, see Barbeyrac (in his Notes on Puffendorf) upon this Head.158
III. I shall subjoin the chief Advantages of Benevolence, that are mention’d by our Author, together with several others, that he has not taken notice of, that the Strength of his Reasoning may appear more forceable and collected.
Acts of Benevolence are accompanied with Pleasure, but the contrary Actions with Pain. By the former is gain’d the Good Will, by the latter, the Evil Will of others. The former begets Self-approbation, and the latter Self-condemnation. By the smaller Faults against Benevolence, there is a Habit contracted, or at least the contrary Habit broken; and the Person becomes wavering and unsettled in his Actions, and for the most part guided by a narrow and short-sighted Self-Love. In the Execution of Benevolent Designs others concur, and by that means the Agent is seldom disappointed; but the Case is just the reverse in contrary Actions. Benevolence is an additional Spur to the Acquisition of Knowledge, and constant Industry is seldom excited by a bare Ambition. Benevolence has very frequent, almost perpetual, Occasions of Gratification, and that in the most common Affairs of Life; whereas the selfish Pleasures are small in number, of short duration, and infrequent, if compar’d with the Pleasures of Benevolence. By Actions of Malevolence there is a Habit of Indifference, with regard to the Happiness or Misery of others; for by Custom we not only become hard and insensible, with regard to the Misery of others, but we gain a Habit of thinking so much upon ourselves and our own Happiness, that our Thoughts are thereby engross’d and taken off from a regard to the Happiness of others. Therefore the Pleasure, which accompanies the Actions of Benevolence of a vitious Man, is far short of that, which accompanies the Benevolence of the habitually Virtuous. As the Pleasure of Benevolence is lessen’d by a contrary Habit, so it is much increas’d by a Habit of Benevolence. The Benevolence of the virtuous Man extends much farther than that of the Vitious; for the latter is so weak, that it seldom extends farther, than the Circle of his Acquaintance, whereas the former extends to all Mankind, and not only to his Contemporaries, but to latest Posterity. And for this reason also their Pleasures in Benevolence are vastly different. The truly Benevolent enjoy, even the selfish Pleasures with greater Advantage, from a Consciousness that they give Pleasure to others.
The Contemplation of the Happiness of others, especially of those of superior Rank, often occasions Envy and Discontent, which arises from a reflexion upon our own Condition compar’d with that of others, whom we think more Happy. But to a truly Benevolent Man the Happiness of others gives real Delight, which takes up the Attention, and prevents the Sorrow and Uneasiness of the Malevolent. Many Actions which produce private Pleasure, are also productive of the Good of the Publick; so that in those Actions the Benevolent Man has a double Pleasure. The Malevolent Man not only wants all the above-mention’d Advantages, but wherever the Benevolent, as such, receives Pleasure, he receives real positive Pain.
The Benevolent are at Peace with all Men, and enjoy the Advantages of good-Neighbourhood, not only in the common Offices, but often in extraordinary Cases; whereas the Malevolent not only want all those Advantages, but are disquieted by Feuds and Animosities, and do often suffer Injuries from their Enemies. One Offence generally introduces many others, either to defend or hide it; and one Malevolent Contention naturally introduces others, by which the Enmity is increas’d.
The Tranquillity of Mind, which arises from Self-approbation is constant and uninterrupted, and disposes the Mind for the Enjoyment of all its other Pleasures, whereas most other Pleasures are of a short duration. And to a Man, who upon sedate Reflexion does not approve of his own Actions, his Pleasures are pursued in a broken, turbulent, and interrupted manner, and as it were by a War within a Man’s self; and, when past, give Uneasiness, when reflected on.
[1. ]This definition has attracted much critical attention owing to the existence of a variant text in some copies of the first (1672) edition of Cumberland’s work. The first, shorter, version of the definition reads, “Lex Nature est propositio natura rerum ex voluntate primae causae menti satis aperte oblata vel impressa, quae actionem agentis rationalis possibilem communi bono maxime deservientem indicat, & integram singulorum foelicitatem exinde solum obtineri posse.” The second, “corrected,” printed version reads after “impressa”: “actionem indicans Bono Rationalium communi observientem, quam si praestetur praemia, sin negligatur poenae sufficientes ex Natura Rationalium sequunter” (p. 185). This is followed by a section that has no counterpart in the original (in Maxwell’s translation, herein, “The former Part” to “anything to the contrary,” p. 331). Linda Kirk is undoubtedly correct to suggest (Richard Cumberland and Natural Law, p. 79) that Cumberland revised this passage, and the crowding of the longer version on p. 85 of Cumberland’s text suggests that it was a late revision. However, Kirk goes further and argues that the different versions reveal that Cumberland vacillated between a proto-utilitarian formula, by which moral obligation arises from the good consequences of rational actions, and a “conventional,” voluntarist account that stresses rewards and punishments of a divine legislator. Knud Haakonssen (“The character and obligation of natural law according to Richard Cumberland” in Stewart, ed., English Philosophy in the Age of Locke , pp. 35–41) has suggested that a conflict between the two versions is inadmissible on the basis of Cumberland’s own assertions, especially in 5.3 where Cumberland argues that although the initial definition seems to omit the concepts of commanding, forbidding, punishing, and rewarding, “nevertheless I acknowledge that [the law of nature] to have all those powers.” My own work on Cumberland suggests that there was, as Kirk perceived, a tension between a naturalist (utilitarian) and voluntarist account, but that the whole point of De Legibus was to reassert the connection between voluntarism and naturalism, i.e., to demonstrate that natural law could carry all of the formal qualities of law that Hobbes had denied. Cumberland’s revision simply removed a hostage to interpretative fortune (Parkin, Science, Religion, and Politics, p.108n). Max-well offers what Barbeyrac calls “un mélange assez bizarre” (Traité Philosophique, p.209, n. 1) in that he reproduces the first definition entire, ignoring the amended passage after “impressa” and then joins it to the second section of the corrected version beginning “Huius definitionis.” It is possible that Maxwell felt that to reproduce the long version involved some repetition of the discussion of sanctions and opted for a combination that covered all of the ideas discussed in the two variants. Barbeyrac translates the corrected version in the belief that this represented the author’s intentions. Translated from the Latin (following Linda Kirk) this runs as follows: “The law of nature is a proposition presented to or impressed upon the mind clearly enough by the nature of things from the will of the first cause pointing out the action which will promote the good of rational beings and whose consequences, from the nature of rational beings, will be rewards if it is performed and sufficient punishments if it is neglected.” Kirk, Richard Cumberland and Natural Law, 31.
[2. ][Maxwell] “The following Observations, from Mr. Wollaston, (in his Religion of Nature, sect. II) seem here pertinent.
[3. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 3.33, p. 56, where Hobbes suggests that laws, properly speaking, are utterances of one who commands. Cf. Leviathan, ch. 15, p. 100.
[4. ][Maxwell] “Created Beings are the second Causes of necessary Truths, the Creator, the first Cause of them.”
[5. ][Maxwell] “The Civilians universally acknowledge, ‘That the Division into the Law of Nature, and that of Nations, according to Justinian’s explication, is only the explaining two different senses of the same Word;’ the former, improper and Metaphorical, as Naturalists use the word Law, to denote those uniform Effects, which are observ’d in the Motions of Bodies. The latter is proper. By the Laws of Nature, the Emperor understands only uniform Instincts observ’d in all Animals, by the Law of Nations he denotes, what our Author, with most Moderns and Ancients, calls the Law of Nature. Some later Writers, by the Laws of Nations, understand that Branch of the Law of Nature, which relates to sovereign States or Princes, or those Conventions about certain Privileges of Ambassadours, about Goods taken in open War, and certain Limitations of the Methods of Hostility, to which, perhaps, antecedently to Conventions express or tacit, there would have been no obligation.”
[6. ]Justinian, Digest, I.1.1.3; Institutes, I.2.
[7. ]Justinian, Digest, I.1.1.3; Institutes, I.1.
[8. ]Justinian, Institutes, II.1.1.
[9. ]Cicero, De Officiis, III.v.23.
[10. ]Cicero, De Inventione, II.xxii.65.
[11. ]Justinian, Digest, I.3.7.
[12. ]This sentence supports the suggestion that the allegedly utilitarian definition in 5.1 is in fact conventional. See n. 1 above.
[13. ]Barbeyrac (Traité Philosophique, p. 213, n. 3) suggests a similarity with Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, V.17.
[14. ][Maxwell] “It can not only be prov’d, ‘That a course of Virtue is most for a Man’s advantage,’ but that perhaps in most common Cases ‘every single virtuous action is most for the advantage of the Agent, be his preceding or following actions what they will.’”
[15. ]Justinian, Digest, I.3.1: “Lex est commune praeceptum.”
[16. ]Barbeyrac (Traité Philosophique, p. 214, n. 6) suggests that this reference comes from Aeneas Gazaeus, a fifth-century Platonist, who quotes Solonin his Theophrastus.
[17. ]Justinian, Digest, I.1.1.2.
[18. ]Cumberland is following Descartes’ description of mathesis universalis, for which see n. 10 in ch. 1.
[19. ]Again, Cumberland demonstrates the compatibility of his work with Stoic sources. For the contemporary authority for these ideas, see Lipsius, Manuductio ad Stoicam Philosophiam (1604), II.20.
[20. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 3.4, p. 45.
[21. ]Ibid., 12.1, pp. 131–32: “For it has been shown that the civil laws are the rules of good and evil . . . and that therefore one must accept what the legislator enjoins as good, and what he forbids as evil. . . . When private men claim for themselves a knowledge of good and evil, they are aspiring to be as Kings. When this happens the commonwealth cannot stand.”
[22. ]Ibid., 17.12, pp. 214–15.
[24. ]Ibid., ch. 3.
[25. ]Herodotus, Historia, VIII.35.
[26. ]Cumberland quotes the phrase in Greek. Possible sources are Epictetus, Enchiridion, 52, or Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, III.6.
[27. ]Barbeyrac (Traité Philosophique, p. 226, n. 1) notes that there should be an ampersand instead of a comma here. Maxwell follows the text.
[28. ]Justinian, Digest, I.1.1.3.
[29. ]Justinian, Institutes, III.14.
[30. ]Justinian, Digest, XLVI.3.95.4.
[31. ][Maxwell] “This is an instance of the Analytick method.”
[32. ]Plutarch, De Consolatio ad Uxorem (in Moralia), 611a.
[33. ]The quotation here echoes Ennius in Cicero, De Officiis, I.xvi.50–51.
[34. ][Maxwell] “Consider’d as the Foundation of the Relation between Father and Son.”
[35. ][Maxwell] “Immanent Actions of the Mind, are such as terminate within the Mind itself, such as all Acts of the Understanding; Transient, such as produce Effects without the Mind, such as those acts of the Will, which begin Motion, or produce any Effect without the Mind.”
[36. ]From Lucian’s dialogue, Timon the Misanthropist.
[37. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 1.7, p. 27.
[38. ]Ibid., 1.10, 12, pp. 28–30.
[39. ]See Cumberland, A Treatise of the Laws of Nature, 1.28.
[40. ]Ibid., 2.17, 2.19.
[41. ]Seneca, Epistulae Morales, LXXI.2–3.
[42. ]Huygens, Tractatus de ratiociniis in aleae ludo. See ch. 4, n. 7.
[43. ]Cumberland’s formula recalls Justinian, Digest, 28.7.15.
[44. ][Maxwell] “Arguing à Priori, from the Cause to the Effect.”
[45. ][Maxwell] “A Posteriori, from the Cause to the Effect.”
[46. ]Diogenes Laertius, Lives, X.132.
[47. ]Barbeyrac (Traité Philosophique, p. 244, n. 3) suggests Seneca, Epistulae Morales, XCV, as a possible source here.
[48. ]Cumberland refers to Gassendi’s Philosophiae Epicuri Syntagma (1649); the reference to Velleius comes from Cicero, De Natura Deorum, I.viii–xx.18–56.
[49. ][Maxwell] “It ought not to be said, as some say, ‘That God demands Honour of us merely out of Goodness to us.’ For God, consider’d as Imperial over the Universe, is necessarily the Law of true Religion. The Duties of Religion are founded upon his being God, which, supposing our Existence, is to be unto us a sovereign Liege-Lord. These Duties are founded upon the Rights of his Godhead (which are singular, proper, incommunicable, inviolable, unalienable, and essential to his being God,) upon the immutable Nature of Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, Gratitude and Justice, and his Interest as well as our Interest. The religious acknowledgment of his Rights is the Interest of his Pleasure, Honour, Service, of his Kingdom and Government, and of his being God. If we make not a religious acknowledgment of them, if we oppose them, this is a doing him the most real and deadly Displeasure and Injury, it is a denying and bereaving him of his Subjects and Service; a fighting against God, a vilifying him, and pouring Indignities upon him, a despoiling him of his Worth and Excellence, and of his Attributes and Perfections, a deposing, dethroning, and undeifying him. Therefore it is God’s Interest, that we should do him Honour. Kings and Parents do not require, that their Subjects and Children should honour them, merely for that Party’s Benefit, but for the Publick Interest. Can it be imagin’d, that merely for our Benefit he forbids us, to vilify and undeify him, and to make him a Lyar? That his Honour and Interest is subordinate and merely subservient to our Advantage. For what is Man to God, or the Creature to the Creator? As his Honour is his Interest, and he is infinitely superiour to us, so his Interest is transcendent to ours; agreeably to the order of the two great Commandments, the first of which requireth our superlative Love for God, the second enjoineth the Love of our Neighbour in due Equality with our-selves. So our Lord’s Prayer allotteth the second place to the Matters of our Benefit in the three last Petitions, Our Bread, the Forgiveness of our Sins, and the leading us not into Temptation: But the three first Petitions are, Thy Name be hallowed, thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done.” Maxwell is keen to reinforce Cumberland’s point that religious worship is not simply a transactional arrangement in return for benefits received.
[50. ]This passage makes clear Cumberland’s theory of obligation. A common misunderstanding is that Cumberland was proposing that rewards and punishments in themselves were a source of obligation. As Cumberland states, obligation arises from a knowledge of the law and the lawgiver alone. Reward sand punishments can provide a clue to the nature of God’s will, but they do not oblige of themselves.
[51. ]See ch. 1.27ff.
[52. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 1.15, p. 31; 2.3, p. 34; 3.1, pp. 43–44; Leviathan, chs. 14–15.
[53. ]A paraphrase of the arguments in On the Citizen, 1.10–13.
[55. ]Cf. Hobbes’s use of the Golden Rule (Matthew 7.12) in On the Citizen 3.26, p. 53, and also Leviathan, ch. 15, p. 99.
[56. ][Maxwell] “I question, whether this increasing of Punishment, because of the uncertainty, should take place in the State of Nature, or among Independent States, tho’ it is just that it should in any one State. The reason of the Difference is probably this. In the natural Equality of Men, or among sovereign States, the Balance of Power is generally kept so even, that there is no great probability, that the just Side shall prevail, in External Force, against the unjust; and, the severities of the one will provoke the like severities of the other. But, in a well-regulated State, there is still much greater Probability of Justice in the Sentences of the Judges, and of Superior Force to support the Just Cause. The want of these circumstances in the State of Nature, shews the reasons of our preferring the more Human Methods of War, to the more Cruel, which once prevailed.”
[57. ]Cumberland’s argument here has interesting parallels with Locke’s treatment of the same issue in the Two Treatises on Government, II.19; cf. Pufendorf, De Jure Naturae et Gentium, II.5.17, 18.
[58. ]Justinian, Institutes, III.14.
[59. ][Maxwell] “Because every Person, who is truly rational, will assist every other Person, how weak soever, in favouring and promoting his reasonable Desires and Expectations; so far as it comes to their Knowledge, and as they have it in their Power.”
[60. ][Maxwell] “Such as those Arguments by which it is offered to be prov’d, That a Traveller, ignorant of the Situation of the Country, and without a Guide, coming to a Place, where the Road parts into two, equally fair, and equally probable to be the right, will stand still, and not proceed either Way, which is contrary to all Experience.”
[61. ]Herodotus, Historia, III.9.
[62. ]In fact the reference is to Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 27, pp. 204–5.
[63. ]The experiments referred to were carried out by Robert Hooke in 1659 and are recorded in Robert Boyle’s New Experiments Physico-Mechanical (1660).
[64. ]This gruesome experiment was performed before the Royal Society in October 1667. It was recorded in Philosophical Transactions, 2 (1667), pp. 539–40.
[65. ]Cumberland (De Legibus Naturae, p. 253) uses the Greek term here.
[66. ]Maxwell follows Cumberland’s Latin (De Legibus Naturae, p. 254: “ad communem omnium usum,” p. 254), but Barberyrac (Traité Philosophique, pp. 268–69, n. 2) thinks that the text is corrupt at this point, the sentence referring to the common use of all the parts of the body, and a variant he follows in his text (“l’usage commun de tous les Membres de nôtre Corps”). This does seem to make better sense of Cumberland’s developing analogy of the benefits accruing from respiration.
[67. ]The “School-term” is causa adequata, De Legibus Naturale, p. 255.
[68. ]Maxwell cites Cumberland’s Greek quotation in a footnote, “Γένιχα γενιχως,” a formula possibly taken from Aristotle’s treatment of the subject in On Interpretation.
[69. ][Maxwell] “The intrinsick Force of these Arguments consists in the necessary Connexion, according to the establish’d Course of Nature, between Virtue and Happiness, Vice and Misery.”
[70. ]Cicero, De Legibus, I.vii.22.
[71. ]Justinian, Institutes, III.13.
[72. ]For examples of this position, see Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, V.6, VII.73, IX.42; XI.4; Diogenes Laertius, Lives, VII.94; Epictetus, Discourses, III.7.
[73. ]In footnotes Maxwell briefly glosses each term to reinforce Cumberland’s argument that such sanctions are not the cause of obligation. The cause is the divine will whose end is the common good of all, not just the good of individuals.
[74. ][Maxwell] “An Identical Proposition is that, which affirms any thing of it-self, as Happiness is Happiness.”
[75. ][Maxwell] “See the Answer to this Objection in the 45th and following Sections of this Chapter.”
[76. ]“And so the wicked Man . . .”: a version of a quotation attributed to Attalus by Seneca in Epistulae Morales, LXXXI.22–23.
[77. ][Maxwell] “This first or leading Cause, the Motive, is what Logicians call the Procatarctick Cause.”
[78. ]A paraphrase of the argument in Hobbes, On the Citizen, ch. 5.
[79. ]Ibid., 1.10, p. 28.
[80. ]Ibid., 1.12, 13, 15, pp. 29–31; 3.33, pp. 56–57.
[81. ]Ibid., 5.1, p. 69.
[82. ]Ibid., 8.1, p. 102, where Hobbes deploys his notorious “mushroom men” metaphor.
[83. ][Maxwell] “See the second Paragraph of the precedent Section.”
[84. ][Maxwell] “See the third Paragraph of the precedent Section.”
[85. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 2.2, p. 34.
[86. ]Ibid., 14.3, p. 156.
[87. ]Both Cumberland (De Legibus Naturae, p. 269) and Maxwell cite De Cive 2.23 here, but this seems to be a misprint; De Cive 2.3 is the passage that actually refers to the continued exercise of natural rights being opposed to the law of nature. Hobbes, On the Citizen, 2.3, p. 34.
[88. ][Maxwell] “In the fiftieth and following Sections of this Chapter.”
[89. ]In his own copy, Cumberland strikes out the last (abusive) sentence of the section and replaces it with the following: “But such rights, which are improperly so called, however drawn together and united they might be, also improperly, to constitute the civil government, could never result in a right of sovereignty. Yet, in matters of politics, one always supposes that there are sovereign rights, properly so-called: and Hobbes himself has to attribute them, in a proper sense, to all civil states; otherwise he is only spouting empty phrases.” Cumberland, Trinity College MS.adv.c.2.4, p. 270.
[90. ][Maxwell] “Tis true, that the Roguish, and consequently, the Inconsiderate, part of Mankind are, generally, IN FACT not deterr’d from the Commission of Villainy, if they think the Probability greater of escaping, than of suffering, Punishment; how great soever the Punishment is, with which they are threaten’d, if they are detected, and brought to Justice. Yet, IN REASON, and to one who balances the Motives for and against any Action deliberated upon, the Motives may be stronger against committing a Crime, than for committing it, tho” the Probability were greater of escaping, than of suffering, the Punishment threatened. For Example; Suppose a Man stealing three Pounds, is threaten’d by the Law with a sevenfold Restitution, that is, with a Fine of Twenty-one Pounds, and that the Chance of his escaping, is to that of his suffering, Punishment, as four to three, or that he has four Chances fore scaping, and three for suffering, Punishment. That Fine of twenty-one Pounds, threaten’d with such a degree of Probability, is equal to nine Pounds certain; and, consequently, the Motive to Steal is but as three, but the Motive not to steal is as nine, that is, is thrice as great as the former; and, consequently, in Reason, sufficient to deter, tho’no regard were had to any other Consideration, than barely to the Punishment threaten’d by the Civil Power.”
[91. ]See Cumberland’s views on property, 1.22–23; 7.
[92. ][Maxwell] “See the Proof of this in the 44th § of this Chapter.”
[93. ]Cf. Introduction, sect. 14, where Cumberland also deploys Cicero’s refutation of the Epicurean position; Cicero, De Finibus, II.x.32. [Maxwell] “There are many Evils, of which we have as positive Ideas, as of the good Things opposite; our Aversion from Evil is as positive an Action, as our pursuit of Good: Pain is no more shunn’d from desire of opposite Pleasure, than Pleasure is desir’d from Aversion from Pain. Both are positive Sensations; nor can we suppose any Negative Ideas. The Word, Incidence, is Negative, and may denote a State, without either Pleasure, or Pain: But Negative Ideas are not Intelligible, much less are they the Objects either of Desire, or Aversion. When we compare any State of Pain, with a State of Freedom from that Pain, the latter does, from the Contrast, become very pleasing and agreeable; whereas, did we consider it barely in it-self, and without any regard to the opposite State, there would be scarce any discernible Pleasure therein; or, at most, none so great, as to raise a desire sufficient to influence an Endeavour after it. Hence it happens, that there is, for the most part, not only an Aversion from the present Evil, but a Desire of the opposite State, which rises in Proportion to the Degree of the Aversion. But, as the Impression of Pain upon the Mind, is generally more deep and lasting than that of Pleasure, the Emotion of Mind excited by the former is proportionably more strong and violent than that occasioned by the latter: Hence, in case of present Pain, the Aversion does often in so great Measure in gross the Attention, that the Desire of the opposite State is scarce discernible. From this Cause, as I take it, proceeds their Opinion, who think that the Aversion from Evil does, of it-self, for the most part, influence the Volition of the Means to avoid the Evil then hated, without any desire of a State of Freedom from that Evil accompanying it. On the contrary, the Mind is sometimes so much taken up about the Means, that its Attention is diverted from the Evil it seeks to avoid: The Volition of every of which Means is immediately preceded by a Desire. Hence it happens, that many think there is no Aversion from Evil at all, distinct from the Desire of Good; and that the only Emotion of Mind, which influences Action, is Desire. Whether Desire always accompanies Aversion; or whether it sometimes does not accompany it, according as we happen to think of a State of Freedom from the present Evil, I will not determine: But that we often think of the Happiness of the opposite State, and consequently desire it, I think is certain.”
[94. ]For this argument, see Diogenes Laertius, Lives, X.139.
[95. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 1.2, 21–25. It was a common move for Hobbes’s critics to associate him with Epicurus and Epicureanism, and there was some justification for this given Hobbes’s close relationship with the neo-Epicurean philosopher Pierre Gassendi. That said, there were important differences, not least in terms of Hobbes’s more Stoic position on free will and determinism. For the relationship between Hobbes and Epicureanism, see L. Sarasohn, “Motion and Morality: Pierre Gassendi, Thomas Hobbes and the Mechanical World View,” Journal of the History of Ideas 46 (1985), pp. 363–80; Sorell, “Seventeenth-Century Materialism: Gassendi and Hobbes,” in Parkinson, The Renaissance and Seventeenth-Century Rationalism (1993), pp. 235–72.
[96. ]Justinian, Digest, 1.3.25.
[97. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 1.12, pp. 29–30.
[98. ]Diogenes Laertius, Lives, X.117–21.
[99. ]Ibid., X.139–54.
[100. ]Ibid., X.22; Cicero, De Finibus, II.xxx.96.
[101. ]Diogenes Laertius, Lives, X.138.
[102. ]Cicero, De Natura Deorum, I.xliv.123.
[103. ]Cumberland follows the critique of Epicurean philosophy in Cicero, De Finibus, I.iv.17–21.
[104. ]Cumberland refers to Gassendi’s works on Epicurus, including the An imadversiones in Decimum Librum Diogenis Laertii, qui est de Vita, Moribus, Plascitisque Epicuri (1649), the Philosophiae Epicuri Syntagma (1649), collected with his works in the Syntagma Philosophicum (1658).
[105. ]The main classical sources for Epicurus’s theories are Diogenes Laertius, Lives, X.40–42; Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, II.216.
[106. ]Gassendi, Philosophiae Epicuri Syntagma, vol. I, p. 672ff.
[107. ]Cumberland is glossing a passage in Cicero, De Natura Deorum, II.xxxvii.94.
[108. ]Cumberland is referring to the revival of Epicureanism. For the impact of Epicureanism in England, see Mayo, Epicurus in England 1650–1725 (1934);Kroll, The Material World: Literate Culture in the Restoration and Early Eighteenth Century (1991). The phrase “Epicurus’s Herd” comes from Horace, Epistulae, I.iv.15, 16.
[109. ]Diogenes Laertius, Lives, X.144.
[110. ]Cicero, De Finibus, I.ix–xxi.
[111. ]E.g., Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 26.
[112. ][Maxwell] “It may be objected against our Author’s Scheme, That there are some Actions for the Good of the Publick, which, Revelation tells us, are Duties, which, nevertheless, don’t appear, from the Light of Nature, to be enforced with Rewards and Punishments. Such are the laying down Life for the Good of our Country, or in Case of Persecution, for what we believe a true Religion. To this I answer, That we can scarce conceive it possible for the Constitution of Things to have been so fram’d, as that from the natural Consequences of Action in this Life, a Rational Agent would have had a sufficient Motive to lay down his Life upon any Occasion whatever: Unless the Nature of Things were so contriv’d, as that the Consequences of avoiding that Action would render Life less eligible, than Non-existence; or, at least, so far inferior in Happiness to that future State of Existence, which from the Light of Nature, we have hope of enjoying, so that the Excess of Happiness of the latter, would, upon a rational Deliberation, be sufficient to overbalance the Excess of Certainty of the former. And our Author asserts, and I think with Reason, That Things are so constituted, that it is certain, that what the Nature of Things would admit of for our Happiness, our Creator has given us, namely, such inward Dispositions and Propensities of Mind, as have sometimes produced such noble Actions, as are above-mention’d. But, let natural Reason, amongst the Bulk of Mankind, should not have been sufficient to have perform’d these Heroick Acts of Virtue, and, because Passion, not temper’d by Reason, is always fickle and unsteddy, the Author of our Being, in the overflowing of his Bounty, has given us a supernatural Revelation of his Will, to fill up the Defects of Nature, and compleat our Happiness; which Assistance of Revelation, that it is sufficient, the innumerable Army of Martyrs, of each Sex, is an undeniable Proof.”
[113. ]Cumberland here echoes St. Paul, I Corinthians 15.19: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
[114. ]Cumberland refers us back to the start of the discussion at 5.40.
[115. ][Maxwell] “This Objection against our Author and some other Moralists, is very unjust; ’tis perhaps true, that ‘No Action can be called Virtuous, so far as the Agent is excited to it by Private Interest, or Self-Love.’ And yet it is plainly impossible for any Moralists to set other Motives to Action before Men, but these from Self-Love. These Motives will not excite Benevolent Affections directly, since no Man can love another, only out of intention to obtain private Good to himself: But Benevolence is really Natural to all Men, and the only Reason why it does not excite them to act for Publick Good, is this, That upon some false Views they imagine their private Interest would be oppos’d by it. Remove these false Views, and Benevolence, when the seeming Obstacle is remov’d, must influence Men: Nay, Self-Love must conspire with it, to excite to the very same Actions. Moralists indeed may do this to raise Benevolent Affections, (which perhaps we cannot call proposing Motives to Action,) viz. represent Objects as morally Good. Such Representation does necessarily raise Benevolent Affections. This our Author has done in his Representation of the Goodness of the Deity, and the Constitution of Human Nature, in opposition to the Odious and Horrible Idea Hobbes has given of both. This our Author’s Scheme, tho’ it raises Mens Attention to their Actions, first from regard to their Private Interest, does not necessarily represent all Virtue, as only the Effects of Self-Love, or intended ultimately for private Good.
[116. ]Cf. Seneca, De Beneficiis, IV.16–17.
[117. ]Cf. Cicero, De Finibus, V.ix.24.
[118. ]Cf. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, I.7.
[119. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 5.1, p. 69: “Each man’s hope therefore of security and preservation, lies in his using his strength and skill to stay one step ahead of his neighbour either openly or by stratagems.”
[120. ][Maxwell] “The Benignity of Human Nature is in part only, not wholly, resolvable into Conclusions of Reason. We have kind Affections, wherever there is no opposition of Interest, even before any Reasoning, in the same manner in which we love our-selves, tho’ generally in a weaker degree. Our Benignity, in nearer Ties, sometimes continues, where there is opposition of Interest, as toward Off-spring and Friends, whose Ease and Pleasure we sometimes study more than our own, and without intention of our own. Reason indeed, as our Author excellently explains, does confirm and direct both these Affections.”
[121. ]Euclid, Elementa Geometriae, VI. Prop. 13.
[122. ][Maxwell] “When it is objected, ‘That Virtue is intended for the Pleasure of the Agent, and, consequently, that all Ends are subordinate to Private Good;’ it is to be consider’d, ‘That in virtuous Actions the Intention of Agents is the Good of others, or Pleasing the Deity from Gratitude, either without Intention of Private Good, or with this Intention only as concomitant to some kind Affection—. There is a plain difference to be made between the natural Tendency of an Action to make the Agent Happy; and the Design which the Agent had in doing it, or that which he chiefly desir’d to be effected by his Action. Private Good is not in this sense the Design, at least not the sole Design, of virtuous Actions.’”
[123. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 3.33 [Maxwell’s translation]: “The Law of Nature is not, properly speaking, a law”; ibid., 3.27[Maxwell’s translation]:“Because most Men are apt, thro’ an unjust Desire of present Advantage, to neglect the Observance of the aforesaid Laws, (namely, of Nature,) tho’ known to them; if perhaps any, more modest than the rest, should practice the equitable and beneficent Dictates of Reason, whilst others practis’d the contrary, their Practice would be most absurd; for they would not thereby procure to themselves Peace, but sure and speedy Destruction, and those who observ’d the Laws of Nature, would become a Prey to those who did not observe them. We must not therefore imagine, That Men are oblig’d by Nature, (that is, by Reason,) to the Practice of all those Laws, among Men who do not likewise exercise them. We are, however, oblig’d to a Disposition to observe them, whensoever the Observing of them shall seem to conduce to their design’d End. We may therefore conclude, ‘That the Law of Nature obliges at all Times, and in all Places, in the internal Court, or that of Conscience, not always in the external Court;’ but only then, when it is consistent with our Security’; ibid., 5.1 [Maxwell’s translation]:“Everyone’s prospect of Security and Self-preservation is owing to this, That he should prevent his Neighbour, by his own Force or Cunning, Openly or by Wiles”; ibid., 5.2 [Maxwell’s translation]: “It is a common Observation, That in War Laws are silent; and it is true, as well of the Law of Nature, as of Civil Laws, if we do not respect the inward Disposition, but the outward Actions.”
[124. ]Ibid., 14.9, p. 158: “For the natural law did give rise to obligation in the natural state, where, first, nothing was another’s (because nature gave all things to all men), and it was consequently not possible to encroach on what was another’s; where, secondly, all things were in common, for which reason also all sexual unions were licit; where, thirdly, it was a state of war, and hence licit to kill; where, fourthly, the only definitions were those of each man’s own judgement, and that would include the definition of the honours due to parents; finally where there were no public courts and therefore no practice of giving testimony whether true or false.”
[125. ]Ibid., 5.1, p. 69.
[127. ]Ibid., 3.2, p. 44: “Therefore either one should keep faith with every one or one should not make agreements, that is, one must either declare war or maintain a firm and faithful peace”; ibid., 3.3, p. 44: “He who is compelled by arguments to deny an assertion he had previously upheld, is said to be reduced to absurdity; in the same way he who, through weakness of will, does or fails to do what he had previously promised by agreement not to do or not to fail to do, does a wrong, and falls into a contradiction no less than someone in the schools who is reduced to absurdity.”
[128. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 31, p. 243: “Having thus briefly spoken of the Naturall Kingdome of God, and his Naturall Lawes, I will adde onely to this Chapter a short declaration of his Naturall Punishments. There is no action of man in this life, that is not the beginning of so long a chayne of Consequences, as no humans Providence, is high enough, to give a man a prospect to the end. And in this Chayn, there are linked 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 annexed to it; and these pains, are the Naturall Punishments of those actions, which are the beginning of more Harme than Good. And here by it comes to passe, that Intemperance, is naturally punished with Diseases; Rashnesse, with Mischances; Injustice, with the Violence of Enemies; Pride, with Ruine; Cowardise, with Oppression; Negligent government of Princes, with Rebellion; and Rebellion, with Slaughter. For seeing Punishments are consequent to the breach of Lawes; Naturall Punishments must be naturally consequent to the breach of the Lawes of Nature; and therefore follow them as their naturall, not arbitrary effects.” The Latin edition omits everything from “Diseases” to the end of the passage, replacing it with “&c. & tales sunt quas voco Poenas Naturales.” [“of such kind are called natural punishments”]. Cf. Hobbes, Leviathan (1668), p. 172.
[129. ]Huygens, Tractatus de ratiociniis in aleae ludo, Prop. 9.
[130. ]Cf. Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 13, p. 75.
[131. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 2.1, p. 37: “In the state of nature agreements made by a contract of mutual trust . . . are invalid if a just cause for fear arises on either side.”
[132. ]Ibid., 1.4, p. 26: “One man practises the equality of nature, and allows others everything which he allows himself; this is the mark of a modest man, one who has a true estimate of his own capacities.”
[133. ]Ibid., 14.21, p. 166: “The sin which is the crime of treason by natural law is a transgression of natural, not civil, law.”; Ibid., 14.22 (166): “It follows from this that rebels, traitors and others convicted of treason are punished not by civil right, but by natural right, i.e. not as bad citizens, but as enemies of the commonwealth, and not by the right of government or dominion, but by the right of war.”
[134. ]Cumberland takes up the topic in 9.14.
[135. ]Cf. Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 28, pp. 205–6. Cumberland is right to suggest that Hobbes confuses the argument in the Latin edition by arguing that rebellious subjects are punished. Cf. Leviathan (1668), p. 148. The English edition consistently argues that enemies cannot be punished as such.
[136. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 14.21, 22, p. 166.
[137. ]Ibid., 5.3, p. 70.
[138. ]Ibid., 1.10n, pp. 28–29: “Each man has a right of self-preservation (by article 7), therefore he also has the right to use every means necessary to that end (by article 8). The necessary means are those that he shall judge to be so himself (by article 9). He therefore has the right to do and to possess everything that he shall judge to be necessary to his self-preservation. In the judgement of the person actually doing it, what is done is rightly done, even if it is a wrong, and so is rightly done. It is therefore true that in the natural state, etc.”
[139. ]Ibid., 3.27n, p. 54.
[140. ]Ibid., 13.7, p. 144–45.
[141. ]Ibid., 10.17, p. 126.
[142. ]Ibid., 2.11, p. 37.
[143. ]Ibid., 2.11n. [Maxwell’s translation]: “The Fear cannot be thought just, unless there appear some new Cause of Fear, from some overt Act, or other Signification of his Will, that the other Party does not design to perform his Part. For that Cause, which could not prevent his contracting, ought not to prevent his performance.”
[144. ]Ibid., 5.1–2, pp. 69–70; ibid., 3.27 [Maxwell copies Cumberland’s mistaken reference in De Legibus Naturae, p. 134], p. 54.
[145. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 5.1, p. 69; see also Cumberland, A Treatise of the Laws of Nature, 5.50 above.
[146. ]Diogenes Laertius, Lives, X.150, maxim 33, 36.
[147. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 1.14, pp. 30–31: “And the victor may rightly compel the vanquished (as a strong and healthy person may compel the sick or an adult an infant) to give a guarantee of future obedience, unless he prefers to die. For since the right of protecting ourselves at our own discretion proceeds from our danger, and the danger arises from equality, it is more rational and gives more assurance of our preservation if we make use of our present advantage to build the security we seek for ourselves by taking a guarantee, than to attempt to recover it later with all the risks of conflict when the enemy has grown in numbers and strength and escaped from our power. And from the other side it is the height of absurdity, when you have him in your power in feeble condition, to make him strong again as well as hostile by letting him go.”
[148. ]Ibid., 5.5–8, pp. 71–73.
[149. ]Grotius, De Jure Belli ac Pacis, II.1.
[150. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 1.12, pp. 29–30.
[151. ]Ibid., Dedicatory Epistle, p. 3, quoting the proverb from Plautus, Asinaria, 2.4.88: “There are two maxims which are surely both true: Man is a God to Man, and Man is a wolf to Man. The former is true of the relations of citizens with each other, the latter of relations between commonwealths. In justice and charity, the virtues of peace, citizens show some likeness to God. But between commonwealths, the wickedness of bad men compels the good too to have recourse, for their own protection, to the virtues of war, which are violence and fraud, i.e. to the predatory nature of beasts.”
[152. ]Hobbes, De Homine, X.3, p. 59.
[153. ]Descartes uses the same structural metaphor in Meditations, I.2. The view that blood is made from chyle was derived from Galen and was developed by seventeenth-century anatomists such as Harvey.
[154. ]For the Aristotelian hypothesis, see Aristotle, De Caelo, II.14; Cumberland refers to Descartes’ theory of vortices from the Principia Philosophiae (1644).
[155. ]Barbeyrac (Traité Philosophique, p. 328n) suggests that Cumberland is alluding to Horace’s “Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret” (“Though you drive nature out with a pitchfork, she will still find her way back”), Epistles, I.x.24.
[156. ]Another reference to Huygen’s Tractatus de ratiociniis in aleae ludo; see also ch. 4, n. 7, and ch. 5, n. 42.
[157. ]Cassius Dio Cocceianus, Roman History, LV.3.1–6. Cumberland’s reference is incorrect.
[158. ]Barbeyrac himself (Traité Philosophique, p. 332) suggests looking at his edition of Pufendorf, Le Droit de la Nature et des Gens (1706), III.4, 5; IV.