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HUTCHESON AN INQUIRY CONCERNING THE ORIGINAL OF OUR IDEAS OF VIRTUE OR MORAL GOOD - Lewis Amherst Selby-Bigge, British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, vol. 1 
British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, edited with an Introduction and analytical Index by L.A. Shelby-Bigge in two volumes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897). Vol. 1.
Part of: British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, 2 vols.
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HUTCHESON AN INQUIRY CONCERNING THE ORIGINAL OF OUR IDEAS OF VIRTUE OR MORAL GOOD
[First edition 1725. Reprinted here from the second edition, London 1726, omitting the author's ltalics.]
HUTCHESON An Inqeiry concerning Moral Good and Evil
68The Word Moral Goodness, in this Treatise, denotes our Idea of some Quality apprehended in Actions, which procures Approbation, and Love toward the Actor, from those who receive no Advantage by the Action. Moral. Evil., denotes our Idea of a contrary Quality, which excites Aversion, and Dislike toward the Actor, even from Persons unconcern'd in its natural Tendency. We must be contented with these ariaperfect Descriptions, until we discover whether we really have such Ideas, and what general Foundation there is in Nature for this Difference of Actions, as morally Good or Evil.
These Descriptions seem to contain an universally ac-knowledg'd Difference of Moral Good and Evil, from Natural. All Men who speak of moral Good, acknowledge that it procures Love toward those we apprehend possess'd of it; whereas natural Good does not. In this matter Men must consult their own Breasts. How differently are they affected toward those they suppose possess'd of Honesty, Faith, Generosity, Kindness, even when they expect no Benefit from these admlr'd Quaht) s; and those who are possess'd of the natural Goods, such as Houses, Lands, Gardens, Vineyards, Health, Strength, Sagacity? We shall find that we necessarily love and approve the Possessors of the former; but the Possession of the latter procures no Love at all toward the Possessor, but often contrary Affections of Envy and Hatred. In the same manner, whatever Quality we apprehend to be morally Evil, raises our Hatred toward the Person in whom we observe it, such as Treachery, Cruelty, Ingratitude, even when they are no way hurtful to our selves; whereas we heartily love, esteem, and pity many who are expos'd to natural Evils, such as Pain, Poverty, Hunger, Sickness, Death, even when we our selves suffer Inconveniences, by these natural Evils of others.
69 Now the first Question on this Subject is, 'Whence arise these different Ideas of Actions.'
Because we shall afterwards frequently use the Words Interest, Advantage, natural Good, it is necessary here to fix their Ideas. The Pleasure in our sensible Perceptions of any kind, gives us our first Idea of natural Good, or tappiness; and then all Objects which are apt to excite this Pleasure are call'd immediately Good. Those Objects which may procure others immediately pleasant, are call'd Advantageous: and we pursue both Kinds from a View of Interest, or from Self-Love
Our Sense of Pleasure is antecedent to Advantage or Interest, and is the Foundation of it. We do not perceive Pleasure in Objects, because it is our Interest to do so; but Objects or Actions are Advantageous, and are pursu'd or undertaken from Interest, because we receive Pleasure from them. Our Perception of Pleasure is necessary, and nothing is Advantageous or naturally Good to us, but what is apt to raise Pleasure mediately, or mmaediately. Such Objects as we know, either from Experience of Sense, or Reason, to be immediately, or mediately Advantageous, or apt to minister Pleasure, we are said to pursue from Self-interest, when our Intention is only to enjoy this Pleasure, which they have the Power of exciting. Thus Meats, Drink, Harmony, fine Prospects, Painting, Statues, are perceiv'd by our Senses to be immediately Good; and our Reason shews Riches and Power to be mediately so, that is, apt to furmsh us with Objects of immediate Pleasure: and both Kinds of these natural Goods are pursu'd from Interest, or Self-Love.
70 Now the greatest part of our latter Moralists establish it as undeniable, 'That all moral Qualitys have necessarily some Relation to the Law of a Superior, of sufficient Power to make us Happy or Miserable' and since all Laws operate only by Sanctmns of Rewards, or Punishments, which determine us to Obedience by Motives of Self-interest, they suppose, 'that it is thus that Laws do constitute some Actions mediately Good, or Advantageous, and others the same way Disadvantageous.' They say indeed, 'That a benevolent Legislator constitutes no Actions Advantageous to the Agent by Law, but such as in their own Nature tend to the natural Good of the Whole, or, at least, are not inconsistent with it; and that therefore we approve the Virtue of others, because it has some small Tendency to our Happiness, either from its own Nature, or from this general Consideratmn, That Obedience to a benevolent Legislator, is in general Advantageous to the Whole, and to us in particular and that for the contrary Reasons alone, we disapprove the Vice of others, that is, the prohibited Action, as tending to our particular Detriment in some degree.' But then they maintain, 'That we are determin'd to Obedience to Laws, or deterr'd from Disobedience, merely by Motives of Self-interest, to obtain either the natural Good arising from the commanded Action, or the Rewards promised by the Sanction; or to avoid the natural evil Consequences of Disobedience, or at least the Penaltys of the Law.'
71 Some other Morahsts suppose 'an immediate natural Good in the Actions call'd Virtuous that is, That we are determin'd to perceive some Beauty in the Actions of others, and to love the Agent, even without reflecting upon any Advantage which can any way redound to us from the Action that we have also a secret Sense of Pleasure accompanying such of our own Actions as we call Virtuous, even when we expect no other Advantage from them.' But they alledge at the same time, 'That we are excited to perform these Actions, even as we pursue, or purchase Pictures, Statues, Landsklps, from Self-Interest, to obtain this Pleasure which aecompanys the very Action, and which we necessarily enjoy in doing it.' The Design of the following Sections is to enquire into the matter; and perhaps the Reasons to be offer'd may prove,
72 I. 'That some Actions have to Men an immediate Goodness; or, that by a superior Sense, which I call a Moral one, we perceive Pleasure in the Contemplation of such Actions in others, and are determin'd to love the Agent, (and much more do we perceive Pleasure in being conscious of having done such Actions our selves) without any View of further natural Advantage from them.'
II. It may perhaps also appear, 'That what excites us to these Actions which we call Virtuous, is not an Intention to obtain even this sensible Pleasure; much less the future Rewards from Sanctions of Laws, or any other natural Good, which may be the Consequence of the virtuous Action but an entirely different Principle of Action from Interest or Self-Love.'
OftheMoral Senseby which we perceiveVirtueandVice, and approve or disapprove them in others.
73 I. That the Perceptions of moral Good and Evil, are perfectly different from those of natural Good, or Advantage every one must convince himself, by reflecting upon the different Manner in which he finds himself affected when these Objects occur to him. Had we no Sense of Good distinct from the Advantage or Interest arising from the external Senses, and the Perceptions of Beauty and Harmony; our Admiration and Love toward a fruitfull Field, or commodious Habitation, would be much the same with what we have toward a generous Friend, or any noble Character; for both are, or may be advantageous to us: And we should no more admile any Action, or love any Person in a distant Country, or Age, whose Influence could not extend to us, than we love the Mountains of Peru, while we are unconcern'd in the Spanish Trade. We should have the same Sentiments and Affections toward inanimate Beings, which we have toward rational Agents; which yet every one knows to be false. Upon Comparison, we say, 'Why should we admire or love with Esteem inanimate Beings? They have no Intention of Good to us; their Nature makes them fit for our Uses, which they neither know nor study to serve. But it is not so with rational Agents: they study our Interest, and delight in our Happiness, and are Benevolent toward us.' 74 We are all then conscious of the Difference between that Love and Esteem, or Perception of moral Excellence, which Benevolence excites toward the Person in whom we observe it, and that Opinion of natural Goodness, which only raises Desire of Possession toward the good Object. Now 'what should make this Difference, if all Approbation, or Sense of Good be from Prospect of Advantage? Do not inammate Objects promote our Advantage, as well as Benevolent Persons who do us Offices of Kindness, and Friendship? Should we not then have the same endearing Sentiments of both? or only the same cold Opinion of Advantage in both?' The Reason why it is not so, must be this, 'That we have a distinct Perception of Beauty, or Excellence in the kind Affections of rational Agents; whence we are determin'd to admire and love such Characters and Persons.'
Suppose we reap the same Advantage from two Men, one of whom serves us from Delight in our Happiness, and Love toward us; the other from Views of Self-lnterest, or by Constraint: both are in this Case equally beneficial or advantageous to us, and yet we shall have quite different Sentiments of them. We must then certainly have other Perceptions of moral Actions than those of Advantage: And that Power of receiving these Perceptlons may be call'd a Moral Sense, since the Definition agrees to it, viz. a Determination of the Mind, to receive any Idea from the Presence of an Object which occurs to us, independent on our Will.
75 This perhaps will be equally evident from our Ideas of Evil, done to us designedly by a rational Agent. Our Senses of natural Good and Evil would make us receive, with equal Serenity and Composure, an Assault, a Buffet, an Affront from a Neighbour, a Cheat from a Partner, or Trustee, as we would an equal Damage from the Fall of a Beam, a Tile, or a Tempest and we should have the same Affections and Sentiments of both. Villany, Treachery, Cruelty, would be as meekly resented as a Blast, or Mildew, or an overflowing Stream. But I fancy every one is very differently affected on these Occasions, the there may be equal natural Evil in both. Nay, Actions no way detrimental, may occasion the strongest Anger, and Indignation, if they evidence only impotent Hatred, or Contempt. And, on the other hand, the Intervention of moral Ideas may prevent our Hatred of the Agent, or bad moral Apprehension of that Action, which causes to us the greatest natural Evil. Thus the Opinion of Justice in any Sentence, will prevent all Ideas of moral Evil in the Execution, or Hatred toward the Magistrate, who is the _mmediate Cause of our greatest Sufferings.
76 II. In our Sentiments of Actions which affect ourselves, there:s indeed a Mixture of the Ideas of natural and moral Good, which reqmre some Attention to separate them. But when we reflect upon the Actions which affect other Persons only, we may observe the moral Ideas unmix'd with those of natural Good, or Evil. For let it be here observ'd, that those Senses by which we perceive Pleasure in natural Objects, whence they are constituted Advantageous, could never raise in us any Desire of publick Good, but only of what was good to our selves in particular. Nor could they ever make us approve an Action because of its promoting the Happiness of others. And yet as soon as any Action is represented to us as flowing from Love, Humanity, Gratitude, Compassion, a Study of the good of others, and a Delight in their Happiness, although it were in the most distant Part of the World, or in some past Age, we feel Joy within us, admire the lovely Action, and praise its Author. And on the contrary, every Action represented as flowing from Hatred, Delight in the Misery of others, or Ingratitude, raises Abhorrence and Aversion.
77 It is true indeed, that the Actions we approve in others, are generally imagin'd to tend to the natural Good of Mankind, or of some Parts of it. But whence this secret Chain between each Person and Mankind? How is nay Interest connected with the most distant Parts of it? And yet I must admire Actions which are beneficial to them, and love the Author. Whence this Love, Compassion, Indignation and Hatred toward even feign'd Characters, in the most distant Ages, and Nations, according as they appear Kind, Faithful, Compassionate, or of the opposite Dispositions, toward their Imaginary Contemporaries? If there is no moral Sense, which makes rational Actions appear Beautiful, or Deform'd; if all Approbation be from the Interest of the Approver,
What's Hecubato us, or we toHecuba?1
78 III Some refin'd Explainers of Self-Love may tell us, 'That we hate, or love Characters, according as we apprehend we should have been supported, or injur'd by them, had we liv'd in their Days.' But how obvious is the Answer, if we only observe, that had we no Sense of moral Good in Humanity, Mercy, Faithfulness, why should not Self-Love, and our Sense of natural Good engage us always to the victorious Side, and make us admxre and love the successful Tyrant, or Traitor? Why do not we love Sinon, or Pyrrhus, in the Æneid? for had we been Greeks, these two would have been very advantageous Characters. Why are we affected with the Fortunes of Priamus, Polites, Chor(ebus or Æneas? It is plain we have some secret Sense which determines our Approbation without regard to Self-Interest; otherwise we should always favour the fortunate Side without regard to Virtue, and suppose our selves engaged with that Party.
Suppose any great Destruction occasion'd by mere Accident, without any Design, or Negligence of the Person who casually was the Author of it: This Action might have been as disadvantageous to us as design'd Cruelty, or Mahce; but who will say he has the same Idea of both Actions, or Sentiments of the Agents? 'Whence then this Difference?'
And further, Let us make a Supposition, which perhaps is not far from Matter of Fact, to try if we cannot approve even disadvantageous Actions, and perceive moral Good in them. A few ingenious Artisans, persecuted in their own Country, flee to ours for Protection; they instruct us in Manufactures which support Millions of Poor, Increase the Wealth of almost every Person in the State, and make us formadable to our Neighbors. In a Nation not far distant from us, some resolute Burgomasters, full of Love to their Country, and Compassion toward their Fellow-Citizens, opprest in Body and Soul by a Tyrant, and Inquisition, with indefatigable Diligence, public Spirit, and Courage, support a tedious perilous War against the Tyrant, and form an industrious Republick, which rivals us in Trade, and almost in Power. All the World sees whether the former or the latter have been more advantageous to us: and yet let every Man consult his own Breast, which of the two Characters he has the most agreeable Idea of? whether of the useful Refugee, or the public-spirited Burgomaster, by whose I ove to his own Country, we have often suffer'd in our Interests? and I am confident he will find some other Foundation of Esteem than Advantage, and will see a just Reason, why the Memory of our Artisans is so obscure among us, and yet that of our Rivals is immortal. 79 IV. Some Morahsts, who will rather twist Self-Love into a thousand Shapes, than allow any other Principle of Approbation than Interest, may tell us, 'That whatever profits one Part without detriment to another, profits the Whole, and then some small Share will redound to each Individual; that those Actions which tend to the Good of the Whole, if universally perform'd, would most effectually secure to each Individual his own Happiness; and that consequently, we may approve such Actions, from the Opinion of their tending ultimately to our own Advantage.
We need not trouble these Gentlemen to shew by their nice Train of Consequences, and Influences of Actions by way of Precedent in particular Instances, that we in this Age reap any Advantage from Orestes's killing the treacherous Ægysthus, or from the Actions of Codrus or Decius. Allow their Reasonings to be perfectly good, they only prove, that after long Reflection, and Reasoning, we may find out some ground, even from Ymws of Interest, to approve the same Actions which every Man admires as soon as he hears of them; and that too under a quite different Conception.
Should any of our Travellers find some old Grecian Treasure the Miser who hid it, certainly perform'd an Action more to the Traveller's Advantage than Codrus or Orestes for he must have but a small Share of Benefit from their Actions, whose Influence is so dispers'd, and lost in various Ages, and Nations: Surely then this Miser must appear to the Traveller a prodigious Hero in Virtue! For Self-interest will make us only esteem Men according to the Good they do to our Selves, and not give us high Ideas of public Good, but in proportion to our Share of it. But must a Man have the Reflection of Cumberland, or Puffendorf, to admlre Generosity, Faith, Humanity, Gratitude? Or reason so nicely to apprehend the Evil in Cruelty, Treachery, Ingratitude? Do not the former excite our Admiration, and Love, and Study of Imitation, wherever we see them, almost at first View, without any such Reflection; and the latter, our Hatred, Contempt, and Abhorrence? Unhappy would it be for Mankind, if a Sense of Virtue was of as narrow an Extent, as a Capacity for such Metaphysicks.
80 V. This moral Sense, either of our own Actions, or of those of others, has this in common with our other Senses, that however our Desire of Virtue may be counterballanc'd by Interest, our Sentiment or Perception of its Beauty cannot; as it certainly might be, if the only Ground of our Approbation were Views of Advantage. Let us consider this both as to our own Actions and those of others.
A Covetous Man shall dislike any Branch of Trade, how useful soever it may be to the Publick, if there is no Gain for himself in it; here is an Aversion from Interest. Propose a sufficient Premium, and he shall be the first who sets about it, with full Satisfaction in his own Conduct. Now is it the same way with our Sense of moral Actions? Should any one advise us to wrong a Minor, or Orphan, or to do an ungrateful Action toward a Benefactor; we at first View abhor at: Assure us that it will be very advantageous to us, propose even a Reward our Sense of the Action is not alter'd. It is true, these Motives may make us undertake it; but they have no more Influence upon us to make us approve it, than a Physician's Advice has to make a nauseous Potion pleasant to the Taste, when we perhaps force our selves to take it for the Recovery of Health.
81 Had we no Notion of Actions, beside our Opinion of their Advantage, or Disadvantage, could we ever chuse an Action as Advantageous, which we are conscious is still Evil? as it too often happens in human Affairs. Where would be the need of such high Bribes to prevail with Men to abandon the Interests of a ruin'd Party, or of Tortures to force out the Secrets of their Friends? Is it so hard to convince Mens Understandings, if that be the only Faculty we have to do with, that it is probably more advantageous to secure present Gain, and avoid present Evils, by joining with the prevalent Party, then to wait for the remote Possibility of future Good, upon a Revolution often improbable, and sometimes unexpected? And when Men are overpersuaded by Advantage, do they always prove their own Conduct? Nay, how often is their remaining Life odious, and shameful, in their own sense of it, as well as in that of others, to whom the base Action was profitable?
If any one becomes satisfy'd with his own Conduct in such a Case, upon what Ground is it? How does he please himself, or vindicate his Actions to others? Never by reflecting upon his private Advantage, or alledging this to others as a Vindication but by gradually warping into the moral Principles of his new Party for no Party is without them. And thus Men become pleas'd with their Actions under some Appearance of moral Good, distract from Advantage.
82 It may perhaps be alledg'd, 'That in those Actions of our own which we call Good, there is this constant Advantage, superior to all others, which is the Ground of our Approbation, and the Motive to them from Self-love, viz. That we suppose, the Deity will reward them.' This will be more fully consider'd 1 afterwards: At present it is enough to observe, that many have high Notions of Honour, Faith, Generosity, Justice, who have scarce any Opinions about the Deity, or any Thoughts of future Rewards and abhor any thing which is Treacherous, Cruel, or Unjust, without any regard to future Punishments.
But further, the these Rewards, and Punishments, may make my own Actions appear advantageous to me, and make me approve them from Self-Love, yet they would never make me approve, and love another Person for the like Actions, whose Merit would not be imputed to me. Those Actions are advantageous indeed to the Agent; but his Advantage is not my Advantage: and Self-Love could never influence me to approve Actions as advantageous to others, or to love the Authors of them on that account.
83 This is the second thing to be consider'd, 'Whether our Sense of the moral Good or Evil, in the Actions of others, can be over-ballanc'd, or brib'd by Views of Interest.' Now I may indeed easdy be capable of wishing, that another would do an Action I abhor as morally Evil, if it were very Advantageous to me: Interest in that Case may overballance my Desire of Virtue in another. But no Interest to my self will make me approve an Action as morally Good, which, without that Interest to nay self, would have appear'd morally Evil; if, upon computing its whole Effects, it appears to produce as great a moment of Good in the Whole, when it is not beneficial to me, as it did before when it was. In our Sense of moral Good or Evil, our own private Advantage of Loss is of no more moment, than the Advantage or Loss of a third Person, to make an Action appear Good or Evil. This Sense therefore cannot be over-ballanc'd by Interest. How ridiculous an Attempt wou'd it be, to engage a Man by Rewards, or to threaten him into a good Opinion of an Action, which was contrary to his moral Notions? We may procure Dissimulation by such means, and that is all.
84 VI. A late witty Author1 says, 'That the Leaders of Mankind do not really admire such Actions as those of Regulus, or Declus, but only observe, that Men of such Dispositions are very useful for the Defence of any State and therefore by Panegyricks, and Statues, they encourage such Tempers in others, as the most tractable, and useful.' Here first let us consider, If a Traitor, who would sell his own Country to us, may not often be as advantageous to us, as a Hero who defends us: And yet we can love the Treason, and hate the Traitor. We can at the same time praise a gallant Enemy, who is very pernicious to us. Is there nothing in all this but an Opinion of Advantage?
Again, upon this Scheme what could a Statue or Panegyrick effect?—Men love Praise—They will do the Actions which they observe to be pralsed.—Pralse, with Men who have no other Idea of Good but Self-Interest, is the Opinion which a Nation or Party have of a Man as useful to them—Regulus, or Cato, or Decius, had no Advantage by the Actions which profited thelr Country, and therefore they themselves could not admire them, however the Persons who reap'd the Advantage might praise such Actions. —Regulus or Cato could not possibly praise or love another Hero for a virtuous Action; for this would not gain them the Advantage of Honour; and their own Actions they must have look'd upon as the hard Terms on which Honour was to be purchas'd, without any thing amiable in them, which they could contemplate or reflect upon with Pleasure.—Now how unhke is this to what the least Observation would teach a Man concerning such Characters?
But says he1 , These wondrous cunning Governours made Men beheve, by their Statues and Panegyncks, that there was publick Spirit, and that this was in it self Excellent; and hence Men are led to admire it in others, and to mfitate it in themselves, forgetting the Pursmt of their own Advantage.' So easy a matter it seems to him, to quit judging of others by what we feel in our selves!—for a Person who is wholly selfish, to imagine others to be publick-spmted!—for one who has no Ideas of Good but In his own Advantage, to be led, by the Persuasions of others, into a Conception of Goodness in what is avowedly detrimental to himself, and profitable to others; nay so entirely, as not to approve the Action thorowly, but so far as he was conscious that it proceeded, from a disinterested Study of the Good of others:—Yet this it seems Statues and I'anegyricks can accomplish!
Nil intra est oleam, nil extra est in nuce auen!1
85 It is an easy matter for Men to assert any thing in Words but our own Hearts must decide the?,latter, 'Whether some moral Actions do not at first View appear amiable, even to those who are uneoncern'd in their Influence? Whether we do not sincerely love a generous kind Friend, or Patriot, whose Actions procure Honour to him only, without any Advantage to our selves?' It is true, that the Actions which we approve, are useful to Mankind; but not always to the Approver. It would perhaps be useful to the Whole, that all Men agreed in performing such Actions and then every one would have his Share of the Advantage: But this only proves, that Reason and calm Reflection may recommend to us, from Self-Interest, those Actions, which at first View our moral Sense determines us to admire, without considering this Interest. Nay, our Sense shall operate even where the Advantage to our selves does not hold. We can approve the Justice of a Sentence against our selves: A condenm'd Traitor may approve the Vigilance of a Cmero in discovering Conspiracies, the it had been for the Traitor's Advantage, that there never had been in the World any Men of such Sagacity. To say that he may still approve such Conduct as tending to the publick Good, is a Jest from one whose only Idea of Good is Self-Interest. Such a Person has no Desire of publick Good further than it tends to his own Advantage, which it does not at all in the present Case.
86 VII. If what is said makes it appear, that we have some other amiable Idea of Actions than that of Advantageous to our selves, we may conclude, 'That this Perception of moral Good is not deriv'd from Custom, Education, Example, or Study.' These give us no new Ideas: They might make us see Advantage to our selves in Actions whose Usefulness did not at first appear; or give us Opinions of some Tendency of Actions to our Detriment, by some nice Deductions of Reason, or by a rash Prejudice, when upon the first View of the Action we should have observ'd no such thing: but they never could have made us apprehend Actions as amiable or odious, without any Consideration of our own Advantage.
87 VIII. It remains then, 'That as the Author of Nature ha_ determin'd us to receive, by our external Senses, pleasant or disagreeable Ideas of Objects, according as they are useful or hurtful to our Bodys and to receive from uniform Objects the Pleasures of Beauty and Harmony, to excite us to the Pursmt of Knowledge, and to reward us for it; or to be an Argument to us of his Goodness, as the Uniformity:t self proves his Exmtenee, whether we had a Sense of Beauty in Uniformity or not: in the same manner he has given us a Moral Sense, to direct our Actions, and to give us still nobler Pleasures; so that while we are only intending the Good of others, we 'undesignedly promote our own greatest private Good.'
88 We are not to imagine, that this moral Sense, more than the other Senses, supposes any innate Ideas, Knowledge, or prachcal Proposition: We mean by it only a Determination of our Minds to receive amiable or disagreeable Ideas of Actions, when they occur to our Observation, antecedent to any Opinions of Advantage or Loss to redound to our selves from them even as we are pleas'd with a regular Form, or an harmonious Composition, without having any Knowledge of Mathematicks, or seeing any Advantage in that Form, or Composmon, different from the immediate Pleasure.
ConcerningtheImmediate MotivetoVirtuous Actions.
80 The Motives of human Actions, or their immediate Causes, would be best understood after considering the Passions and Affections but here we shall only consider the Springs of the Actions which we call virtuous, as far as:t is necessary to settle the general Foundation of the Moral Sense.
I. Every Action, which we apprehend as either morally good or evil, is always suppos'd to flow from some Affection toward rational Agents; and whatever we call Virtue or Vice, is either some such Affection, or some Action consequent upon it. Or it may perhaps be enough to make an Action, or Omission, appear vitious, if it argues the Want of such Affection toward rational Agents, as we expect in Characters counted morally good. All the Actions counted religious in any Country, are suppos'd, by those who count them so, to flow from some Affections toward the Deity; and whatever we call social Virtue, we still suppose to flow from Affections toward our Fellow-Creatures: for in this all seem to agree, 'That external Motions, when accompany'd with no Affections toward God or Man, or evidencing no Want of the expected Affections toward either, can have no moral Good or Evil in them.'
Ask, for instance, the most abstemious Hermit, if Temperance of it self would be morally good, supposing it shew'd no Obedience toward the Deity, made us no fitter for Devotion, or the Service of Mankind, or the Search after Truth, than Luxury; and he will easily grant, that it would be no moral Good, the still it might be naturally good or advantageous to Health: And mere Courage, or Contempt of Danger, if we conceive it to have no regard to the Defence of the Innocent, or repairing of Wrongs, or Self-Interest, wou'd only entitle its Possessor to Bedlam. When such sort of Courage is sometimes admir'd, it is upon some secret Appehension of a good Intention in the use of it, or as a natural Ability capable of an useful Application. Prudence, if it was only employ'd in promoting private Interest, is never imagined to be a Virtue: and Justice, or observing a strict Equality, if:t has no regard to the Good of Mankind, the Preservation of Rights, and securing Peace, is a Quality properer for its ordinary Gestamen, a Beam and Scales, than for a rational Agent. So that these four Qualitys, commonly call'd Cardinal Virtues, obtain that Name, because they are Dispositions universally necessary to promote publick Good, and denote Affections toward rational Agents, otherwise there would appear no Virtue in them.
90 II. Now if it can be made appear, that none of these Affections which we call virtuous, spring from Self-love, or Desire of private Interest; since all Virtue is either some such Affections, or Actions consequent upon them; It must necessarily follow, 'That Virtue is not pursued from the Interest or Self-love of the Pursuer, or any Motives of his own Advantage.'
The Affections which are of most Importance in Morals. are Love and Hatred: All the rest seem but different Modifications of these two original Affections. Now in discoursing of Love toward rational Agents, we need not be cautlon'd not to include that Love between the Sexes, which, when no other Affections accompany it, is only Desire of Pleasure, and is never counted a Virtue. Love toward rational Agents, is subdivided into Love of Complacence or Esteem, and Love of Benevolence: And Hatred is subdlwded into Hatred of Displicence or Contempt, and Hatred of Mahce. Concerning each of these separately we shall consider, 'Whether they can be influenc'd by Motives of Self-Interest.'
91 Love of Complacence, Esteem, or Good-liking, at first view appears to be disinterested, and so the Hatred of D]sphcence or Dislike; and are entirely excited by some moral Qualitys, Good or Email, apprehended to be in the Objects; which Qualitys the very Frme of our Nature determines us to love or hate, to approve or disapprove, according to the moral Sense above explam'd1 . Propose to a Man all the Rewards in the World, or threaten all the Punishments, to engage him to love with Esteem and Complacence, a third Person entirely unknown, or if known, apprehended to be cruel, treacherous, ungrateful; you may procure external Obsequiousness, or good Offices, or Dissimulation of Love; but real Love of Esteem no Price can purchase. And the same is obvious as to Hatred of Contempt, which no Motive of Advantage can prevent. On the contrary, represent a Character as generous, kind, faithful, humane, the in the most distant Parts of the World, and we cannot avoid loving it with Esteem, and Complacence. A Bribe may make us attempt to ruin such a Man, or some strong Motive of Advantage may excite us to oppose his Interest; but it can never make us hate him, while we apprehend him as morally excellent. Nay, when we consult our own Hearts, we shall find, that we can scarce ever persuade our selves to attempt any Mischief against such Persons, from any Motive of Advantage, nor execute it, without the strongest Reluctance, and Remorse, until we have blinded our selves into a bad Opinion of the Person in a moral Sense.
92 III. As to the Love of Benevolence, the very Name excludes Self-Interest. We never call that Man benevolent, who is in fact useful to others, but at the same time only intends his own Interest, without any desire of, or delight in, the Good of others. If there be any Benevolence at all, it must be disinterested; for the most useful Action imaginable, loses all appearance of Benevolence, as soon as we discern that it only flowed from Self-Love or Interest. Thus, never were any human Actions more advantageous, than the Inventions of Fire, and Iron; but if these were casual, or if the Inventor only intended his own Interest in them, there is nothing which can be call'd Benevolent in them. Wherever then Benevolence is suppos'd, there it is imagin'd disinterested, and design'd for the Good of others.
93 But it must be here observ'd, That as all Men have Self-Love, as well as Benevolence, these two Principles may jointly excite a Man to the same Action; and then they are to be consider'd as two Forces impelling the same Body to Motion; sometimes they conspire, sometimes are indifferent to each other, and sometimes are in some degree opposite. Thus, if a Man have such strong Benevolence, as would have produc'd an Action without any Views of Self-Interest; that such a Man has also in View private Advantage, along with publick Good, as the Effect of his Action, does no way diminlsh the Benevolence of the Action. When he would not have produc'd so much publick Good, had it not been for Prospect of Self-lnterest, then the Effect of Self-Love is to be deducted, and his Benevo fence is proportion'd to the remainder of Good, which pure Benevolence would have produc'd." When a Man's Benevolence is hurtful to himself, then Self-love is opposite to Benevolence, and the Benevolence is proportion'd to the Sum of the Good produc'd, added to the Resistance of Self-Love surmounted by it. In most Cases it is impossible for Men to know how far their Fellows are influenc'd by the one or other of these Principles but yet the general Truth AS sufficiently certain, That this is the way in which the Benevolence of Actions is to be computed. Since then, no Love to rational Agents can proceed from Self-lnterest, every Action must be disinterested, as far as it flows from Love to rational Agent_.
94 If any enquire, 'Whence arises this Love of Esteem, or Benevolence, to good Men, or to Mankind in general, if not from some nice Views of Self-Interest? Or, how we can be mov'd to desire the Happiness of others, without any View to our own? 'It may be answel'd, 'That the same Cause which determines us to pursue Happiness for our selves, determines us both to Esteem and Benevolence on their proper Occasions even the very Frame of our Nature, or a generous Instruct, which shall be afterwards explain'd.
95 IV. Here we may observe, That as Love of Esteem and Complacence is always join'd with Benevolence, where there is no strong Opposition of Interest so Benevolence seems to presuppose some small degree of Esteem, not indeed of actual good Qualitys; for there may be strong Benevolence, where there is the Hatred of Contempt for actual Vice; as a Parent may have great Benevolence to a most abandon'd Chad, whose Manners he hates with the greatest Displicence: but Benevolence supposes a Being capable of Virtue. We judge of other rational Agents by our selves. The human Nature is a lovely Form we are all conscious of some morally good Qualities and Inclinations in our selves, how partial and imperfect soever they may be we presume the same of every thing in human Form, nay almost of every living Creature: so that by this suppos'd remote Capacity of Virtue, there may be some small degree of Esteem along with our Benevolence, even when they incur our greatest Displeasure by their Conduct.
96 As to Malice, Human Nature seems scarce capable of mahclous dismterested Hatred, or a sedate Delight in the Misery of others, when we imagine them no way pernicious to us, or opposite to our Interest: And for that Hatred which makes us oppose those whose Interests are opposite to ours, it is only the effect of Self-Love, and not of disinterested Mahce. A sudden Passion may give us wrong Representations of our Fellow-Creatures, and for a little time represent them as absolutely Evil; and during this Imagination perhaps we may give some Evidences of disinterested Malice: but as soon as we reflect upon human Nature, and form just Conceptions, this unnatural Passion is allay'd, and only Self-Love remains, which may make us, from Self-Interest, oppose our Adversarys.
97 V. Having offer'd what may perhaps prove, That our Love either of Esteem, or Benevolence, is not founded on Self-Love, or wews of Interest, let us see 'ff some other Affections, in which Virtue may be plac'd, do arise from Self-Love;' such as Fear, or Reverence, arising from an Apprehension of Goodness, Power, and Justice. For no body apprehends any Virtue in base Dread and Servitude toward a powerful Evil Being: This is indeed the meanest Selfishness. Now the same Arguments which prove Love of Esteem to be dismtcrested, will prove this honourable Reverence to be so too; for it plainly arises flora an Apprehension of amiable Qualitys in the Person, and Love toward him, which raises an Abhorrence of offending him. Could we reverence a Being because it was our Interest to do so, a third Person might bribe us into Reverence toward a Being neither Good, nor Powerful, which every one sees to be a Jest. And this we might shew to be common to all other Passions, which hae rational Agents for their Objects.
98 VI. There is one Objection against disinterested Love, which occurs from conserving, 'That nothing so effectually excites our Love toward rational Agents, as their Beneficence to us; whence we are led to imagine, that our Love of Persons, as well as irrational Objects, flows entirely from Self-Interest.' But let us here examine our selves more narrowly. Do we only love the Beneficent, because it is our Interest to love them? Or do we choose to love them, because our Love is the means of procuring their Bounty? If it be so, then we could indifferently love any Character, even to obtain the Bounty of a third Person; or we could be brlb'd by a third Person to love the greatest Villain heartily, as we may be brib'd to external Offices: Now this is plainly impossible.
99 But further, is not our Love always the Consequent of Bounty, and not the Means of procuring it? External Shew, Obsequiousness, and Dissmmlation may precede an Opinion of Beneficence but real Love always presupposes it, and shall necessarily arise even when we expect no more, fiom consideration of past Benefits. Or can any one say he only loves the Beneficent, as he does a Field or Garden, because of its Advantage? His Love then must cease toward one who has ruin'd himself in kind Offices to him, when he can do him no more; as we cease to love an inanimate Object which ceases to be useful, unless a Poetical Prosopopceia animate it, and rinse an imaginary Gratitude, which is indeed pretty common. And then again, our Love would be the same towards the worst Characters that 'tis towards the best, if they were equally bountiful to us, which is also false, Beneficence then must raise our Love as it is an amiable moral Quality: and hence we love even those who are beneficent to others.
100 It may be further alledg'd, 'That Bounty toward our selves is a stronger Incitement to love, than equal Bounty toward others.' This is true for a Reason to be offer'd below1 : but it does not prove, that in this Case our Love of Persons is from Views of Interest; since this Love is not prior to the Bounty, as the means to procure it, but subsequent upon it, even when we expect no more. In the Benefits which we receive our selves, we are more fully sensible of their Value, nnd of the Circumstances of the Action which are Evidences of a generous Temper in the Donor; and from the good Opinion we have of our selves, we are apt to look upon the Kindness as better employ'd, than when it is bestow'd on others, of whom perhaps we have less favourable Sentiments. It is however sufficient to remove the Objection, that Bounty from a Donor apprehended as morally Evil, or extorted by Force, or conferr'd with some View of Self-Interest, will not procure real Love nay, it may false Indignation, if we suspect Dissimulation of Love, or a Design to allure us into any thing Dishonourable: whereas wisely employ'd Bounty is always approv'd, and gains love to the Author from all who hear of it.
If then no Love toward Persons be influene'd by Self-Love, or Views of Interest, and all Virtue flows from Love toward Persons, or some other Affection equally disinterested; it remains, 'That there must be some other Motive than Self-Love, or Interest, which excites us to the Actions we call Virtuous.'
101 VII. There may perhaps still remain another Suspicion of Self-lnterest in our Prosecution of Virtue arising from this, 'That the whole Race of Mankind seems persuaded of the Existence of an Almighty Being, who will certainly secure Happiness either now, or hereafter, to those who are Virtuous, according to their several Notions of Virtue in various Places: and upon this Persuasion, Virtue may in all Cases be pursu'd from Views of Interest V Here again we might appeal to all Mankind, whether there be no Benevolence but what flows from a View of Reward from the Deity? Nay, do we not see a great deal of it among those who entertain few if any Thoughts of Devotion at all? Not to say that this Benevolence scarce deserves the Name, when we desire not, nor delight in the Good of others, further than it serves our own Ends.
But if we have no other Idea of Good, than Advantage to our selves, we must imagine that every rahonal Being acts only for its own Advantage; and however we may call a beneficent Being, a good Being, because it acts for our Advantage, yet upon this Scheme we should not be apt to think there is any beneficent Being in Nature, or a Being who acts for the Good of others. Pamcularly, if there is no Sense of Excellence in publick Love, and promoting the Happiness of others, whence should this Persuasion arise, 'That the Deity wlll make the Virtuous happy?1 Can we prove that it is for the Advantage of the DeitV to do so? This I fancy will be look'd upon as very absurd, unless we suppose some beneficent Disposltions essential to the Deity, which determine him to consult the publick Good of his Creatures, and reward such as cooperate with his kind Intention. And if there be such Dispositions in the Deity, where is the impossibility of some small degree of this publick Love in his Creatures? And why must they be suppos'd incapable of acting but from Self-Love? 102 In short, without acknowledging some other Principle of Action in rational Agents than Self-Love, I see no Foundation to expect Beneficence, or Rewards from God, or Man, further than it is the Interest of the Benefactor; and all Expectation of Benefits from a Being whose Interests are independent on us, must be perfectly ridiculous. What should engage the Deity to reward Virtue? Virtue is commonly suppos'd, upon this Scheme, to be only a consulting our own Happiness in the most artful way, conslstently with the Good of the Whole; and in Vice the same thing is foolishly pursu'd, in a manner which will not so probably succeed, and which is contrary to the Good of the Whole. But how is the Deity concern'd in this Whole, if every Agent always acts from Self-Love? And what Ground have we, from the Idea of a God it self, to beheve the Deity is good in the Christian Sense, that is, studious of the Good of his Creatures? Perhaps the Misery of his Creatures may give him as much Pleasure, as their Happiness: And who can find fault, or blame such a Being to study their Misery; for what else should we expect? A Mamchean Evil God, is a Notmn which Men would as readily run mto, as that of a Good one, if there is no Excellence in disinterested Love, and no Being acts but for its own Advantage unless we prov'd that the Happiness of Creatures was advantageous to the Deity.
103 VIII. The last, and only remaining Objection against what has been said, is this, 'That Virtue perhaps is pursu'd because of the concomitant Pleasure.' To which we may answer, first, by observing, that this plainly supposes a Sense of Vmue antecedent to Ideas of Advantage, upon which this Advantage is founded; and that from the very Frame of our Nature we are determin'd to perceive Pleasure in the practice of Virtue, and to approve it when practis'd by our selves, or others.
104 But further, may we not justly question, whether all Virtue is pleasant? Or, whether we are not determin'd to some amiable Actions in which we find no Pleasure? 'Tis true, all the Passions, and Affections justify themselves; or, we approve our being affected in a certain manner on certain Occasions, and condemn a Person who is otherwise affected. So the Sorrowful, the Angry, the Jealous, the Compassionate, think it reasonable they should be so upon the several Occasions which move these Passions; but we should not therefore say that Sorrow, Anger, Jealousy, or Pity are pleasant, and that we chuse to be in these Passions because of the concomitant Pleasure. The matter is plainly this. The Frame of our Nature, on such Occasions as move these Passions, determines us to be thus affected, and to approve our being so. Nay, we dislike any Person who is not thus affected upon such occasions, notwith-standing the uneasiness of these Passions. This uneasiness determines us to endeavour an Alteration in the state of the Object; but not otherwise to remove the painful Affection, while the occasion is unalter'd: which shews that these Affections are neither chosen for their concomitant Pleasure, nor voluntarily brought upon our selves with a view to private Good. The Actions which these Passions move us to, tend generally to remove the uneasy Passion by altering the state of the Object; but the Removal of our Pain is seldom directly intended in the uneasy Benevolent Passions nor is the Alteration intended in the State of the Objects by such Passions, imagin'd to be a private Good to the Agent, as it always is in the selfish Passions. If our sole Intention, in Compassion or Pity, was the Removal of our Pain, we should run away, shut our Eyes, divert our Thoughts from the miserable Object, to avoid the Pain of Compassion, which we seldom do: nay, we croud about such Objects, and voluntarily expose our selves to Pain, unless Reason, and Reflection upon our Inability to relieve the Miserable, countermand our Inclination or some selfish Affection, as fear of Danger, overballances it.
Now there are several morally amiable Acnons. which flow from these Passions which are so uneasy; such as Attempts of relieving the Distress'd, of defending the Injur'd, of repairing of Wrongs done by ourselves. These Actions are of accom-pany'd with no Pleasure in the mean time, nor have they any subsequent Pleasure, except as they are successful; unless it be that which may arise from calm Refection, when the Passion is over, upon our having been in a Disposition, which to our moral Sense appears lovely and good: but this Pleasure is never intended in the Heat of Action, nor is it any Motive exciting to it.
105 Besides, In the pleasant Passions, we do not love, because it is pleasant to love; we do not chuse this State, because it is an advantageous, or pleasant State: This Passion necessarily arises from seeing its proper Object, a morally good Character. And if we could love, whenever we see it would be our Interest to love, Love could be brib'd by a third Person and we could never love Persons in Distress, for then our Love gives us Pain. The same Observation may be extended to all the other Affections from which Virtue is suppos'd to flow: And from the whole we may conclude, 'That the virtuous Agent is never apprehended by us as acting only from Views of his own Interest, but as principally influenc'd by some other Motive.'
106 IX. Having remov'd these false Springs of virtuous Actions, let us next establish the true one, viz. some Determination of our Nature to study the Good of others; or some Instinct, antecedent to all Reason from Interest, which influences us to the Love of others; even as the moral Sense above explain'd1 , determines us to approve the Actions which flow from this Love in our selves or others. This disinterested Affection, may appear strange to Men impress'd with Notions of Self-Love, as the sole Motive of Action, from the Pulpit, the Schools, the Systems, and Conversations regulated by them: but let us consider it in its strongest, and simplest Kinds and when we see the Possibility of it in these Instances, we may easily discover its universal Extent.
An honest Farmer will tell you, that he studies the Preservation and Happiness of his Children, and loves them without any design of Good to himself. But say some of our Philosophers, 'The Happiness of their Children give Parents Pleasure, and their Misery gives them Pain; and therefore to obtain the former, and avold the latter, they study, from Self-Love, the Good of their Children.' Suppose several Merchants join'd in Partnership of their whole Effects; one of them is employ'd abroad in managing the Stock of the Company; his Prosperity occasions Gain to all, and his Losses give them Pain from their Share in the Loss: is this then the same Kind of Affection with that of Parents to their Children? Is there the same tender, personal Regard? I fancy no Parent will say so. In this Case of Merchants there is a plato Conjunction of Interest; but whence the Conjunction of Interest between the Parent and Child? Do the Child's Sensations give Pleasure or Pain to the Parent? Is the Parent hungry, thirsty, sick, when the Child is so? 'No, but his Love to the Child makes him affected with his Pleasures or Pains.' This Love then is antecedent to the Conjunction of Interest, and the Cause of it, not the Effect: this Love then must be disinterested. 'No, says another Sophist, Children are Parts of our selves, and in loving them we but love our selves in them.' A very good Answer! Let us carry it as far as it will go. How are they Parts of our selves? Not as a Leg or an Am: We are not conscious of their Sensations. 'But their Bodys were form'd from Parts of ours.' So is a Fly, or a Maggot which may breed in any discharg'd Blood or Humour: Very dear Insects surely 'There must be something else then which makes Children Parts of our selves; and what is this but that Affection which Nature determines us to have towards them? This Love makes them Parts of our selves, and therefore does not flow from their being so before. This is indeed a good Metaphor; and wherever we find a Determination among several rational Agents to mutual Love, let each Individual be look'd upon as a Part of a great Whole, or System, and concern himself in the publick Good of it.
But a later Author observes1 , 'That natural Affection in Parents is weak, till the Children begin to give Evidences of Knowledge and Affections.' Mothers say they feel it strong from the very first: and yet I could wish for the Destruction of his Hypothesis, that what he alledges was true as I fancy it is in some measure, the we may find in some Parents an Affection towards Idiots. The observing of Understanding and Affections in Children, which make them appear moral Agents, can increase Love toward them without prospect of Interest; for I hope this Increase of Love, is not from Prospect of Advantage from the Knowledge or Affections of Children, for whom Parents are still toiling, and never intend to be refunded their Expences, or recompens'd for their Labour, butln Cases of extreme Necessity. If then the observing a moral Capacity can be the occasion of increasing Love without Self-Interest even from the Frame of our Nature; pray, may not this be a Foundation of weaker degrees of Love where there is no preceding tie of Parentage, and extend it to all Mankind? 108 X. And that this is so in fact, will appear by considering some more distant Attachments. If we observe any Neighbours, from whom perhaps we have receiv'd no good Offices, form'd into Friendships, Familys, Partnerships, and with Honesty and Kindness assisting each other; pray ask any Mortal if he would not be better pleas'd with their Prosperity, when their Interests are no way inconsistent with his own, than with their Misery, and Ruin; and you shall find a Bond of Benevolence further extended than a Family and Children, altho the Ties are not so strong. Again, suppose a Person, for Trade, had left his native Country, and with all his Kindred had settled his Fortunes abroad, without any view of returning; and only imagine he had receiv'd no Injurys from his Country: ask such a Man, would it give him no Pleasure to hear of the Prosperity of his Country? Or could he, now that his Interests are separated from that of his Nation, as gladly hear that it was laid waste by Tyranny or a foreign Power? I fancy his Answer would show us a Benevolence extended beyond Neighbourhoods or Acquaintances. Let a Man of a compos'd Temper, out of the hurry of private Affairs, only read of the Constitution of a foreign Country, even in the most distant parts of the Earth, and observe Art, Design, and a Study of publick Good in the Laws of this Association; and he shall find his Mind mov'd in their favour; he shall be contriving Rectifications and Amendments in their Constitution, and regiet any unlucky part of it which may be pernicious to their Interest; he shall bewail any Disaster which befalls them, and accompany all their Fortunes with the Affections of a Friend. Now this proves Benevolence to be in some degree extended to all mankind, where there is no interfering Interest, which from Self-Love may obstruct it. And had we any Notions of rational Agents, capable of moral Affections, in the most distant Planets, our good Wishes would still attend them, and we should delight in their Happiness. 109 XI. Here we may transiently remark the Foundation of what we call national Love, or Love of one's native Country. Whatever place we have liv'd in for any considerable time, there we have most distinctly remark'd the various Affections of human Nature; we have known many lovely Characters; we remember the Associations, Friendships, Familys, natural Affections, and other human Sentiments: our moral Sense determines us to approve these lovely Dispositions where we have most distinctly observ'd them; and our Benevolence concerns us in the Interests of the Persons possess'd of them. When we come to observe the like as distinctly in another Country, we begin to acquire a national Love toward it also; nor has our own Country any other preference in our Idea, unless it be by an Association of the pleasant Ideas of our Youth, with the Buildings, Fields, and Woods where we receiv'd them. This may let us see, how Tyranny, Faction, a Neglect of Justice, a Corruption of Manners, or any thing which occasions the Misery of the Subjects, destroys this national Love, and the dear Idea of a Country.
We ought here to observe, That the only Reason of that apparent want of natural Affection among collateral Relations, is, that these natural Inclinations, in many Cases, are over-power'd by Self-Love, where there happens any Opposition of Interests; but where this does not happen, we shall find all Mankind under its Influence, the with different degrees of Strength, according to the nearer or more remote Relations they stand in to each other; and according as the natural Affection of Benevolence is join'd with and strengthen'd by Esteem, Gratitude, Compassion, or other kind Affections; or on the contrary, weaken'd by, Displicence, Anger, or Envy.
The SenseofVirtue, and the variousOpinionsabout it, reducible to one generalFoundation. The Mannerof computing theMoralityofActions.
110 I. If we examine all the Actions which are counted amiable any where, and enquire into the Grounds upon which they are approv'd, we shall find, that in the Opinion of the Person who approves them, they always appear as Benevolent, or flowing from Love of others, and a Study of their Happiness, whether the Approver be one of the Persons belov'd, or profited, or not; so that all those kind Affections which incline us to make others happy, and all Actions suppos'd to flow from such Affections, appear morally Good, if while they are benevolent toward some Persons, they be not pernicious to others. Nor shall we find any thing amiable in any Action whatsoever, where there is no Benevolence imagin'd; nor in any Disposition, or Capacity, which is not suppos'd applicable to, and design'd for benevolent Purposes. Nay, as we before observ'd1 , the Actions which in fact are exceedingly useful, shall appear void of moral Beauty, if we know they proceeded from no kind Intentions toward others; and yet an unsuccessful Attempt of Kindness, or of promoting publick Good, shall appear as amiable as the most successful, if it flow'd from as strong Benevolence.
111 II. Hence those Affections which would lead us to do good to our Benefactor, shall appear amiable, and the contrary Affections odious, even when our Actions cannot possibly be of any advantage or hurt to him. Thus a sincere Love and Gratitude toward our Benefactor, a chearful Readiness to do whatever he shall require, how burdensom soever, a hearty Inclination to comply with his Intentions, and Contentment with the State he has plac'd us in, are the strongest Evidences of Benevolence we can shew to such a Person and therefore they must appear exceedingly amiable. And under these is included all the rational Devotion, or Religion toward a Deity apprehended as Good, which we can possibly perform.
112 Again, that we may see how Love, or Benevolence, is the Foundation of all apprehended Excellence in social Virtues, let us only observe, That amidst the diversity of Sentiments on this Head among various Sects, this is still allow'd to be the way of deciding the Controversy about any disputed Practice, viz. to enquire whether this Conduct, or the contrary, will most effectually promote the publick Good. The Morality is immediately adjusted, when the natural Tendency, or Influence of the Action upon the universal natural Good of Mankind is agreed upon. That which produces more Good than Evil in the Whole, is acknowledg'd Good; and what does not, is counted Evil. In this Case, we no other way regard the good of the Actor, or that of those who are thus enquiring, than as they make a Part of the great System.
In our late Debates about Passive Obedience, and the Right of Resistance in Defence of Privileges, the Point disputed among Men of Sense was, 'whether universal Submission would probably be attended with greater natural Evils, than temporary Insurrections, when Privileges are invaded; and not, whether what tended in the Whole to the publick natural Good, was also morally Good?' And if a devine Command was alledg'd in favour of the Doctrine of Passive Obedience, this would, no doubt, by its eternal Sanctions cast the ballance of natural Good to its own side, and determine our Election from Interest; and yet our Sense of the moral Good in Passive Obedience, would still be founded upon some Species of Benevolence, such as Gratitude toward the Deity, and Submission to his Will to whom we are so much oblig'd. But I fancy those, who believe the Deity to be Good, would not rashly alledge such a Command, unless they also asserted, that the thing commanded did tend more to the universal Good, than the contrary, either by preventing the external Evils of Civil War, or by enuring Men to Patience, or some other Quality which they apprehended necessary to their everlasting Happiness. And were it not so, Passive Obedience might be recommended as an inglorious Method of escaping a greater Mischief, but could never have any thing morally amiable in it. 113 But let us quit the Disputes of the Learned, on whom, it may be alledg'd, Custom and Education have a powerful Influence; and consider upon what Grounds, in common Life, Actions are approv'd or condemn'd, vindicated or exeus'd. We are universally asham'd to say an Action is Just, because it tends to my Advantage, or to the Advantage of the Actor: And we as seldom condemn a beneficent kind Action, because it is not advantageous to us, or to the Actor. Blame, and Censure, are founded on a Tendency to publick Evil, or a Principle of private Malice in the Agent, or Neglect at least of the Good of others; on Inhumanity of Temper, or at least such strong Selfishness as makes the Agent careless of the Sufferings of others: and thus we blame and censure when the Action no way affects our selves. All the moving and persuasive Vindications of Actions, which may, from some partial evil Tendency, appear evil, are taken from this, that they were necessary to some greater Good which counter ballanc'd the Evil: 'Severity toward a few, is Compassion toward multitudes.—Transitory Punishments are necessary for avoiding more durable Evils.—Did not some suffer on such Occasions, there would be no living for honest Men.'—and such hke. And even when an Action cannot be entirely justify'd, yet how greatly is the Guilt extenuated, if we can alledge; 'That it was only the Effect of Inadvertence without Malice, or of partial good Nature, Friendship, Compassion, natural Affection, or Love of a Party?' All these Considerations shew what is the universal Foundation of our Sense of moral Good, or Evil, viz. Benevolence toward others on one hand, and Malice, or even Indolence, and Unconcernedness about the apparent publick Evil on the other. And let it be here observ'd, that we are so far from imagming all Men to act only from Self-Love, that we universally expect in others a Regard for the Publick; and do not look upon the want of this, as barely the absence of moral Good, or Virtue, but even as positively evil and hateful.
114 IV. Contrarys may illustrate each other; let us therefore observe the general Foundation of our Sense of moral Evil more particularly. Disinterested Malice, or Delight in the Misery of others, is the highest pitch of what we count vitious; and every Action appears evil, which is imagin'd to flow from any degree of this Affection. Perhaps a violent Passion may hurry Men into it for a few Moments, and our rash angry Sentiments of our Enemys, may represent them as having such odious Dispositions; but it is very probable, from the Reasons offer'd above1 , that there is no such degree of Wickedness in human Nature, as, in cold blood, to be pleas'd with the Misery of others, when it is conceiv'd no way useful to our Interests.
The Story of Nero and Pætus may be alledg'd against this, but perhaps unjustly, even allowing the Fact to be true. Nero was conscious he was hated by those whom the World call'd good Men, and that they were dangerous to him; he fancy'd his best Security lay in being temble, and appearing such on all Occasions, by making others miserable when he pleas'd, to let his Enemys see, that they should have no Security from that Compassion which a Nero would imagine argu'd Weakness. This unfortunate Gentleman's Happiness might by some foolish Courtier be so related, as to carry a Reproof of the Tyrant's unnatural Pursuits, whereby his Passion might be excited to cut off the Person admit'd, and prefer'd before him. An), of these Motives of apparent Interest seem more probably to have influenc'd him, than that we should in him, and a few others, suppose a Principle of calm Mahce without Interest, of which the rest of Mankind seem entirely incapable.
The Temper of a Tyrant seems probably to be a continu'd state of Anger, Hatred, and Fear. To form our Judgment thcn of his Motives of Action, and those of Men of like Tempers in lower Stations, let us reflect upon the Apprehensions we form of Mankind, when we are under any of those Passions which to thc Tyrant are habitual. When we are under the fresh Impressions of an Injury, we plainly find, that our Minds are wholly fill'd with Apprehensions of the Person who injur'd us, as if he was absolutely Evil, and delighted in doing Mischief: We overlook the virtues, which, when calm, we could have observ'd in him: we forget that perhaps only Self-Love, and not Malice, was his Motive; oril may be some generous or kind Intention toward others. These, probably, are the Opinions which a Tyrant constantly forms concerning Mankind; and having very much weaken'd all kind Affections in himself, however he may pretend to them, he judges of the Tempers of others by his own. And were Men really such as he apprehends them, his Treatment of them would not be very unreasonable. We shall generally find our Passions arising suitably to the Apprehensions we form of others: if these be rashly form'd upon some sudden slight Views, it is no wonder if we find Dispositions following upon them, very little suited to the real State of human Nature.
115 The ordinary Springs of Vice then among Men, must be a mistaken Self-Love, made so violent as to overcome Benevolence; or Affections arising from false, and rashly form'd Opinions of Mankind, which we run into thro the weakness of our Benevolence. When Men, who had good Opinions of each other, happen to have contrary Interests, they are apt to have their good Opinions of each other abated, by imagining a design'd Opposition from Malice; without this, they can scarcely hate one another. Thus two Candidates for the same Office wish each other dead, because that is an ordinary way by which Men make room for each other; but if there remains any Reflection on each other's Virtue, as there sometimes may in benevolent Tempers, then their Opposition may be without Hatred; and if another better Post, where there is no Competition, were bestow'd on one of them, the other shall rejoice at it.
116 V. The Actions which flow solely from Self-Love, and yet evidence no Want of Benevolence, having no hurtful Effects upon others, seem perfectly indifferent in a moral Sense, and neither raise the Love or Hatred of the Observer. Our Reason can indeed discover certain Bounds, within which we may not only act from Self-Love, consistently with the Good of the Whole, but every Mortal's acting thus within these Bounds for his own Good, is absolutely necessary for the Good of the Whole; and the Want of such Self-Love would be universally pernicious. Hence, he who pursues his own private Good, with an Intention also to concur with that Constitution which tends to the Good of the Whole; and much more he who promotes his own Good, with a direct View of making himself more capable of serving God, or doing good to Mankind; acts not only innocently, but also honourably, and virtuously; for in both these Cases, a Motive of Benevolence concurs with Self-Love to excite him to the Action. And thus a Neglect of our own Good, may be morally evil, and argue a Want of Benevolence toward the Whole. But when Self-Love breaks over the Bounds above-mention'd, and leads us into Actions detrimental to others, and to the whole; or makes us insensible of the generous kind Affections; then it appears vitious, and is disapprov'd. So also, when upon any small Injurys, or sudden Resentment, or any weak superstitious Suggestions, our Benevolence becomes so faint, as to let us entertain odious Conceptions of Men, or any Part of them, without just Ground, as if they were wholly Evil, or Malicious, or as if they were a worse Sort of Beings than they really are; these Conceptions must lead us into malevolent Affections, or at least weaken our good ones, and make us really Vltious.
117 VI, Here we must also observe, that every moral Agent justly considers himself as a Part of this rational System, which may be useful to the Whole; so that he may be, in part, an Object of his own Benevolence. Nay further, as we hinted above, he may see, that the Preservation of the System requires every one to be innocently sollicltous about himself. Hence he may conclude, that an Action which brings greater Evil to the Agent, than Good to others, however it may evidence strong Benevolence or a virtuous Disposition in the Agent, yet it must be founded upon a mistaken Opinion of its Tendency to publick Good, when it has no such Tendency: so that a Man who reason'd justly, and conslder'd the Whole, would not be led into it, were his Benevolence ever so strong; nor would he recommend it to the Practice of others; however he might acknowledge, that the Detriment arising to the Agent from a kind Action, did evidence a strong Disposition to Virtue. Nay further, if any Good was propos'd to the Pursuit of an Agent, and he had a Competitor in every respect only equal to himself; the highest Benevolence possible would not lead a wise Man to prefer another to himself, were there no Ties of ratitude, or some other external Circumstance to move him to yield to his Competitor. A Man surely of the strongest Benevolence, may just treat himself as he would do a third Person, who was a Competitor of equal Merit with the other; and as his preferring one to another, in such a Case, would argue no Weakness of Benevolence; so, no more would he evidence it by preferring himself to a Man of only equal Abilitys.
118 Wherever a Regard to my self, tends as much to the good of the Whole, as Regard to anotherl or where the Evil to my self, is equal to the Good obtain'd for another; tho by acting, in such Cases, for the good of another, I really shew a very amiable Disposition; yet by acting in the contrary manner, from Regard to nay self, I evidence no evll Disposition, nor any want of the most extensive Benevolence; since the Moment of good to the Whole is, in both Cases, exactly equal. And let it be here observ'd, that this does not supersede the necessity of Liberality, and gratuitous Gifts, altho in such Actions the Giver loses as much as the other receives; since the Moment of Good to any Person, in any given Case, is in a compound Ratio of the Quantity of the Good it self, and the Indigence of the Person. Hence it appears, that a Gift may make a much greater Addition to the happiness of the Receiver, than the Dnnlnutlon it occasions in the happiness of the Giver: And that the most useful and important Gifts are those from the Wealthy to the Indigent. Gifts from Equals are not useless neither, since they often increase the Happiness of both, as they are strong Evidences of mutual Love: but Gifts from the Poor to the Wealthy are really foolish, unless they be only little Expressions of Gratitude, which are also fruitful of Joy on both Sides: for these Expressions of Gratitude are really delightful and acceptable to the Wealthy, if they have any Humanity; and their Acceptance of them is matter of Joy to the poor Giver.
119 In like manner, when an Action does more Harm to the Agent, than Good to the Publick; the doing it evidences an amiable and truly virtuous Disposition in the Agent, the 'tis plato he acts upon a mistaken View of his Duty. But if the private Evil to the Agent be so great, as to make him incapable at another time, of promoting a publick Good of greater moment than what is attain'd by thts Action; the Action may really be Evil, so far as it evidences a prior Neglect of a greater attainable publick Good for a smaller one; the at present this Action also flows from a virtuous Disposition.
120 VII. The moral Beauty, or Deformity of Actions, is not alter'd by the moral Qualitys of the Objects, any further than the Qualitys of the Objects increase or diminish the Benevolence of the Action, or the publick Good intended by it. Thus Benevolence toward the worst Characters, or the Study of their Good, may be as amiable as any whatsoever; yea often more so than that toward the Good, since it argues such a strong Degree of Benevolence as can surmount the greatest Obstacle, the moral Evil in the Object. Hence the Love of unjust Enemys, is counted among the highest Virtues. Yet when our Benevolence to the Evil, encourages them in their bad Intentions, or makes them more capable of Mischief; this diminishes or destroys the Beauty of the Action, or even makes it evil, as it betrays a Neglect of the Good of others more valuable; Beneficence toward whom, would have tended more to the publick Good, than that toward our Favourites: But Benevolence toward evil Characters, which neither encourages them, nor enables them to do Mischief, nor diverts our Benevolence from Persons more useful, has as much moral Beauty as any whatsoever.
121 VIII. In comparing the moral Qualitys of Actions, in order to regulate our Election among various Actions propos'd, or to find which of them has the greatest moral Excellency, we are led by our moral Sense of Virtue to judge thus; that in equal Degrees of Happiness, expected to proceed from the Action, the Virtue is in proportion to the Number of Persons to whom the Happiness shall extend; (and here the Dignity, or moral Importance of Persons, may compensate Numbers) and in equal Numbers, the Virtue is as the Quantity of the Happiness, or natural Good; or that the Virtue is in a compound Ratio of the Quantity of Good, and Number of Enjoyers. In the same manner, the moral Evil, or Vice, is as the Degree of Misery, and Number of Sufferers; so that, that Action is best, which procures the greatest Happiness for the greatest Numbers; and that, worst, which, in like manner, occasions Misery.
122 IX. Again, when the Consequences of Actions are of a mix'd Nature, partly Advantageous, and partly Permclous; that Action is good, whose good Effects preponderate the evil, by being useful to many, and permclous to few; and that, evil, which is otherwise. Here also the moral Importance of Characters, or Dignity of Persons may compensate Numbers; as may also the Degrees of Happiness or Misery: for to procure an inconslderable Good to many, but an immense Evil to few, may be Evil; and an immense Good to few, may preponderate a small Evil to many.
But the Consequences which affect the Morality of Actions, are not only the direct and natural Effects of the Actions themselves; but also all those Events which otherwise would not have happen'd. For many Actions which have no immediate or natural evil Effects, nay, which actually produce good Effects, may be evil; if a man foresees that the evil Consequences, which will probably flow from the Folly of others, upon his doing of such Actions, are so great as to overballance all the Good produc'd by those Actions, or all the Evils which would flow from the Omission of them: And in such Cases the Probability is to be computed on both sides. Thus if an Action of mine will probably, thro the Mistakes or Corruption of others, be made a Precedent in unlike Cases, to very evil Actions; or when my Action, the good in it self, will probably provoke Men to very evil Actions, upon some mistaken Notion of their Right; any of these Considerations foreseen by me, may make such an Action of mine evil, whenever the Evils which will probably be occasion'd by the Action, are greater than the Evils occaslon'd by the Omission.
And this is the Reason that many Laws prohibit Actions in general, even when some particular Instances of those Actions would be very useful; because an universal Allowance of them, considering the Mistakes Men would probably fall into, would be more pernicious than an universal Prohibition; nor could there be any more special Boundarys fix'd between the right and wrong Cases. In such Cases, it is the Duty of Persons to comply with the generally useful Constitution; or if in some very important Instances, the Violation of the Law would be of less evil Consequence than Obedience to it, they must patiently resolve to undergo those Penalties, which the State has, for valuable Ends to tile Whole, appointed: and this Disobedience will have nothing criminal in It.
123 X. From the two last Observations, we may see what Actions our moral Sense would most recommend to our Election, as the most perfectly Virtuous: viz. such as appear to have the most universal unlimited Tendency to the greatest and most extensive Happiness of all the rational Agents, to whom our Influence can reach. All Benevolence, even toward a Part, is amiable, when not inconsistent with the Good of the Whole: But this is a smaller Degree of Virtue, unless our Beneficence be restrain'd by want of Power, and not want of Love to the Whole. All strict Attachments to Partys, Sects, Factions, have but an imperfect Species of Beauty, unless when the Good of the Whole requires a stricter Attachment to a Part, as in natural Affection, or virtuous Friendships; or when some Parts are so eminently useful to the Whole, that even universal Benevolence would determine us with special Care and Affection to study their Interests. Thus universal Benevolence would incline us to a more strong Concern for the Interests of great and generous Characters in a high Station, or make us more earnestly study the Interests of any generous Society, whose whole Constitution was contriv'd to promote universal Good. Thus a good fancy in Architecture, would lead a Man, who was not able to bear the Expence of a compleatly regular Building, to chuse such a Degree of Ornament as he could keep uniformly thro the Whole, and not move hml to make a vain unfinished Attempt in one Part, of what he foresaw he could not succeed in as to the Whole. And the most perfect Rules of Architecture condemn an excessive Profusion of Ornament on one Part, above the Proporton of the Whole, unless that Part be some eminent Place of the Edifice, such as the chief Front, or publick Entrance; the adorning of which, would beautify the Whole more than an equal Expence of Ornament on any other Part.
124 This Increase of the moral Beauty of Actions, or Dispositions, according to the Number of Persons to whom the good Effects of them extend, may shew us the Reason why Actions which flow from the nearer Attachments of Nature, such as that between the Sexes, and the Love of our Offspring, are not so amiable, nor do they appear so virtuous as Actions of equal Moment of Good towards Persons less attach'd to us. The Reason is plainly this. These strong Instructs are by Nature limited to small Numbers of Mankind, such as our Wives or Children whereas a Disposition, which would produce a like Moment of Good to others, upon no special Attachment, if it was accompany'd with natural Power to accomplish its Intention, would be incredibly more fruitful of great and good Effects to the Whole.
125 From this primary Idea of moral Good in Actions, arises the Idea of Good in those Dispositions, whether natural or acquir'd, which enable us to do good to others or which are presum'd to be design'd, and acquir'd or cultivated for that purpose. And hence those Abilitys, while nothing appears contrary to our Presumption, may increase our Love to the Possessor of them; but when they are imagin'd to be Intended for publick Mischief, they make us hate him the more: Such are a penetrating Judgment or tenacious Memory, a quick Invention; Patience of Labour, Pain, Hunger, Watching; a Contempt of Wealth, Rumour, Death. These may be rather call'd natural Abilitys, than moral Qualitys. Now, a Veneration for these Qualitys, any further than they are employ'd for the publick Good, is foolish, and flows from our moral Sense, grounded upon a false Opinion; for if we plainly see them maliciously employ'd, they make the Agent more detestable.
126 XI To find a universal Canon to compute the Morality of any Actions, with all their Circumstances, when we judge of the Actions done by our selves, or by others, we must observe the following Propositions or Axioms.
These selfish Motives shall be1 hereafter more fully explain'd; here we may in general denote them by the Word Interest: which when it concurs with Benevolence, in any Action capable of Increase, or Diminution, must produce a greater Quantity of Good, than Benevolence alone in the same Abilitys; and therefore when the Moment of Good, in an Action partly intended for the Good of the Agent, is but equal to the Moment of Good in the Action of another Agent, infiuenc'd only by Benevolence, the former is less virtuous: and in this Case the Interest must be deducted to find the true Effect to the Benevolence, or Virtue. In the same manner, when Interest is opposite to Benevolence, and yet is surmounted by it; this Interest must be added to the Moment, to increase the Virtue of the Action, or the Strength of the Benevolence: Or thus, in advantageous Virtue, . And in laborious, painful, dangerous or expensive Virtue, . By Interest, in this last Case, is understood all the Advantage which the Agent might have obtain'd by omitting the Action, which is a negative Motive to it; and this, when subtracted, becomes positive.
But here we must observe, that no Advantage, not intended, altho casually, or naturally redounding to us from the Action, does at all affect its Morality to make it less amiable; nor does any Difficulty or Evil unforeseen, or not resolved upon, make a kind Action more virtuous; since in such Cases Selt-Love neither assists nor opposes Benevolence. Nay, Self-Interest then only diminishes the Benevolence, when without this View of Interest the Action would not have been undertaken, or so much Good would not have been produe'd by the Agent; and it extenuates the Vice of an evil Action, only when without this Interest the Action would not have been pleasing to the Agent, or so much Evil have been produc'd by him.
The sixth Axiom only explains the external Marks by which Men must judge, who do not see into each others Hearts for it may really happen in many Cases, that Men may have Benevolence sufficient to surmount any Difficulty, and yet they may meet with none at all: And in that Case, it is certain there is as much Virtue in the Agent, the he does not give such Proof of it to his Fellow-Creatures, as if he had surmounted Difficultys in his kind Actions. And this too must be the Case with the Deity, to whom nothing is difficult.
Since then Benevolence, or Virtue in any Agent, is as , or as and no Being can act above his natural Ability; that must be the Perfection of Virtue where M=A, or when the Being acts to the utmost of his Power for the publiek Good; and hence the Perfection of Virtue in this Case, or , is as Unity. And this may shew us the only Foundation for the boasting of the Stomks, 'That a Creature suppos'd Innocent by pursuing Virtue with his utmost Power, may in Virtue equal the Gods.' For in their Case, if [A] or the Ability be Infinite, unless [M] or the Good to be produc'd in the whole, be so too, the Virtue is not absolutely perfect; and the Quotxent can never surmount Umty.
127 XII. The same Axmms may be apply'd to compute the moral Evil in Acttons; that is, calling the Disposition which leads us to Evil, Hatred, the it is oftner only Self-Love, with Inadvertence to its Consequences: then,
Ist. The Moment of Evil produc'd by any Agent, as as the Product of his Hatred into his Ability, or μ=H § A. And,
2thly. In equal Abilitys, μ=H § I.
3thly. When Hatred is equal; μ=A§ I: And,
4thly. The Degree of moral Evil, or Vine, which is equal to the Hatred or Neglect of publick Good, is thus express'd, H = μ/.A.
5thly. The Motives of Interest may co-operate with Hatred, or oppose it the same way as with Benevolence; and then according as Self-Interest may partly excate to the Action, and so diminish the Evil; or dissuade from it, and so increase it, the Malice which surmounts it, or , in like manner as in the Case of moral Good.
But we must observe, that not only Innocence is expected from all Mortals, but they are presmn'd from their Nature, in some measure melin'd to publick Good; so that a bare Absence of this Desire is enough to make an Agent be reputed Evil: Nor is a direct Intention of publick Evil necessary to make an Action evil, it in enough that it flows from Self-Love, with a plain Neglect of the Good of others, or an Insensibility of their Misery, which we either actually foresee, or have a probable Presumptmn of.
It is true indeed, that that publick Evil which I neither certainly foresee, nor have actual Presumptions of, as the Consequence of my Action, does not make my present Action Criminal, or Odious; even altho I might have foreseen this Evil by a serious Examination of my own Actions: because such Actions do not, at present, evidence either Malice, or want of Benevolence. But then it is also certain, that nay prior Negligence, in not examining the Tendency of my Actions, is a plain Evidence of the want of that Degree of good Affechons which is necessary to a virtuous Character and consequently the Guilt properly hes in this Neglect, rather than in an Action which really flows from a good Intention. Human Laws however, which cannot examine the Intentions, or secret Knowledge of the Agent, must judge in gross of the Action itself; presupposing all that Knowledge as actually attain'd, which we are obhg'd to attain.
In like manner, no good Effect which I did not actually foresee and intend, makes my Action morally Good: however Human Laws or Governours, who cannot search into Men's Intentions, or know their secret Designs, justly reward Actions which tend to the publick Good, altho the Agent was engag'd to those Actions only by selfish Views and consequently had no virtuous Disposition influencing him to them.
The difference in degree of Guilt between Crimes of Ignorance when the Ignorance is Vincible, and Faulty, as to the natural Tendency of the Action; and Crimes of Malice, or direct evil Intention, consists in this; that the former, by a prior Neglect, argues a want of the due degree of Benevolence, or right Affections; the latter, evidences direct evil Affections, which are vastly more odious.
128 XIII. From Axiom the 5th, we may form almost a demonstrative Conclusion, 'that we have a Sense of Goodness and moral Beauty in Actions, distinct from Advantage;' for had we no other Foundation of Approbation of Actions, but the Advantage which might arise to us from them, if they were done toward our selves, we should rnake no Account of the Abilitys of the Agent, but would barely esteem them according to their Moment. The Abilitys come in only to shew the Degree of Benevolence, which supposes Benevolence necessarily amiable. Who was ever the better pleas'd wxth a barren rocky Farm, or an inconvenient House, by being told that the poor Farm gave as great Increase as it could; or that the House accommodated its Possessor as well as it could? And yet in our Sentiments of Actions, whose Moment is very inconsiderable, it shall wonderfully increase the Beauty to alledge, 'That it was all the poor Agent could do for the Publick, or his Friend.'
129 XIV. The moral Beauty of Characters arises from their Actions, or sincere Intentions of the publick Good, according to their Power. We form our Judgment of them according to what appears to be their fix'd Disposition, and not according to any particular Sallys of unkind Passions altho these abate the Beauty of good Characters, as the Motions of the kind Affections diminish the Deformity of the bad ones. What then properly constitutes a virtuous Character, is not some few accidental Motions of Compassion, natural Affection, or Gramude; but such a fix'd Humanity, or Desire of the publick Good of atl, to whom our Influence can extend, as uniformly excites us to all Acts of Beneficence, according to our utmost Prudence and Knowledge of the Interests of others: and a strong Benevolence will not fail to make us careful of informing our selves right, concerning the truest Methods of serving the Interests of Mankind. Every Motion indeed of the kind Affections appears in some degree amiable; but we denominate the Character from the prevailing Principle.
130 XV. I Know not for what Reason some will not allow that to be Virtue, which flows from Instincts, or Passions but how do they help themselves? They say, 'Virtue arises from Reason.' What is Reason but that Sagacity we have in prosecuting any End? The ultimate End propos'd by the common Morahsts is the Happiness of the Agent himself, and this certainly he is determin'd to pursue from Instinct. Now may not another Instinct toward the Publick, or the Good of others, be as proper a Principle of Virtue, as the Instinct toward private Happiness? And is there not the same Occasion for the Exercise of our Reason in pursuing the former, as the latter? This is certain, that whereas we behold the selfish Actions of others, with Indifference at best, we see something amiable in every Action which flows from kind Affections or Passions toward others; if they be conducted by Prudence, so as any way to attain their End. Our passionate Actions, as we shew'd1 above, are not always Self-interested; since our Intention is not to free our selves from the Uneasiness of the Passion, but to alter the State of the Object.
131 If it be said, 'That Actions from Instinct, are not the Effect of Prudence and Choice;' this Objection holds full as strongly against the Actions which flow from Self-Love; since the use of our Reason is as requisite, to find the proper Means of promoting publick Good, as private Good. And as it must be an Instinct, or a Determination previous to Reason, which makes us pursue private Good, as well as publick Good, as our End; there is the same occaslon for Prudence and Choice, in the Election of proper Means for promoting of either. I see no harm in supposing, 'that Men are naturally dispos'd to Virtue, and not left merely indifferent, to be mgag'd in Actions only as they appear to tend to their own private Good.' Surely, the Supposition of a benevolent universal Instinct, would recommend human Nature, and its Author, more to the Love of a good Man, and leave room enough for the Exercise of our Reason, in contraving and settling Rights, Laws, Constitutions; in inventing Arts, and practising them so as to gratify, in the most effectual manner, that generous Inclination. And if we must bring in Self-Love to make Virtue Rational, a little Reflection will discover, as shall appear hereafter, that this Benevolence is our greatest Happiness; and thence we may resolve to cultivate, as much as possible, this sweet Disposition, and to despise every opposite Interest. Not that we can be truly Virtuous, if we intend only to obtain the Pleasure which accompanies Beneficence, without the Love of others: Nay, this very Pleasure is founded on our being conscious of disinterested Love to others, as the Spring of our Actions. But Self-Interest may be our Motive, in chusing to continue in this agreeable State, the it cannot be the sole, or principal Motive of any Action, which to our moral Sense appears Virtuous.
132 The applying a mathematical Calculation to moral Subjects, will appear perhaps at first extravagant and wild; but some Corollarys, which are easily and certainly deduc'd below1 may shew the Conveniency of this Attempt, if it could be further pursu'd. At present, we shall only draw this one, which seems the most joyful imaginable, even to the lowest rank of Mankind, viz. 'That no external Circumstances of Fortune, no involuntary Disadvantages, can exclude any Mortal from the most heroick Virtue.' For how small soever the Moment of publick Good be, which any one can accomplish, yet if his Abilitys are pro-portionably small, the Quotient, which expresses the Degree of Virtue, may be as great as any whatsoever. Thus, not only the Prince, the Statesman, the General, are capable of true Heroism, the these are the chief Characters, whose Fame is diffus'd thro various Nations and Ages; but when we find in an honest Trader, the kind Friend, the faithful prudent Adviser, the charitable and hospitable Neighbour, the tender Husband and affectionate Parent, the sedate yet chearful Companion, the generous Assistant of Merit, the cautious Allayer of Contention and Debate, the Promoter of Love and good Understanding among Acquaintances; if we consider, that these were all the good Offices which his Station in the World gave him an Opportunity of performing to Mankind, we must judge this Character really as amiable, as those, whose external Splendor dazzles an injudicious World into an Opinion, 'that they are the only Heroes in Virtue.'
All mankind agree in this general foundation of their approbation of moral actions. the grounds of the different opinions about Morals.
133 I. To shew how far Mankind agree in that which we have made the universal Foundation of this moral Sense, _viz. Benevolence, we have observ'd already1 , that when we are ask'd the Reason of our Approbation of any Action, we perpetually alledge its Usefulness to the Publick, and not to the Actor himself. If we are vindicating a censur'd Action, and maintaining it lawful, we always make this one Article of our Defence, 'That it injur'd no body, or did more Good than Harm.' On the other hand, when we blame any piece of Conduct, we shew it to be prejudicial to others, besides the Actor or to evidence at least a Neglect of their Interest, when it was in our power to serve them; or when Gratitude, natural Affection, or some other disinterested Tye should have rais'd in us a Study of their Interest. If we sometimes blame foolish Conduct in others, without any reflection upon its Tendency to publick Evil, it is still occasion'd by our Benevolence, which makes us concern'd for the Evils befalling the Agent, whom we must always look upon as a part of the System. We all know how great an Extenuation of Crimes it is, to alledge, 'That the poor Man does harm to no body but himself;' and how often this turns Hatred into Pity. And yet if we examine the Matter well, we shall find, that the greatest part of the Actions which are immediately prejudicial to our selves, and are often look'd upon as innocent toward others, do really tend to the publick Detriment, by making us incapable of performing the good Offices we could otherwise have done, and perhaps would have been inclin'd to do. This is the Case of Intemperance and extravagant Luxury.
134 II. And further, we may observe, that no Action of any other Person was ever approv'd by us, but upon some Appre hension, well or ill grounded, of some really good moral Quality. If we observe the Sentiments of Men concerning Actions, we shall find, that it is always some really amiable and benevolent Appearance which engages their Approbation. We may perhaps commit Mistakes, In judging that Actions tend to the publick Good, which do not; or be so stupidly inadvertent, that while our Attention is fix'd on some partial good Effects, we may quite over-look many evil Consequences which counter-ballance the Good. Our Reason may be very deficient in its Office, by giving us partial Representations of the tendency of Actions; but it is still some apparent Species of Benevolence which commands our Approbation. And this Sense, like our other Senses, the counter-acted from Moties of external Advantage, which are stronger than it, ceases not to operate, but has Strength enough to make us uneasy and dissatisfy'd with our selves even as the Sense of Tasting makes us loath, and dislike the nauseous Potion which we may force our selves, from Interest, to swallow.
135 It is therefore to no purpose to alledge here, 'That many Actions are really done, and approv'd, which tend to the universal Detriment.' For the same way, Actions are often perform'd, and in the mean time approv'd, which tend to the Hurt of the Actor. But as we do not from the latter, infer the Actor to be void of Self-Love, or a Sense of Interest; no more should we infer from the former, that such Men are void of a Sense of Morals, or a desire of publick Good. The matter is plamly this. l_len are often mistaken in the Tendency of Actions either to publick, or private Good: Nay, sometimes violent Passmns, while they last, will make them approve very bad Actions in a moral Sense, or very pernicious ones to the Agent, as advantageous: But this proves only, 'That some times there may be some more violent Motive to Action, than a Sense of moral Goodi or that Men, by Passion, may become blind even to their own Interest.'
But to prove that Men are void of a moral Sense, we should find some Instances of cruel, malicious Actions, done, and approv'd in others, when there is no Motive of Interest, real or apparent, save gratifying that very Desire of Mischief to others: We must find a Country where Murder in cold blood, Tortures, and every thing malicious, without any Advantage, is, if not approv'd, at least look'd upon with indifference, and raises no Adverslon toward the Actors in the unconcern'd Spectators: We must find Men with whom the Treacherous, Ungrateful, Cruel, are in the same account with the Generous, Friendly, Faithful, and Humane; and who approve the latter, no more than the former, in all Cases where they are not affected by the Influence of these Disposifions, or when the natural Good or Evil befals other Persons. And it may be question'd, whether the Universe, the large enough, and stor'd with no inconsiderable variety of Characters, will yield us any Instance, not only of a Nation, but even of a Club, or a single Person, who will think all Actions indifferent, but those which regard his own Concerns. 136 III. From what has been said, we may easily account for the vast Diversity of moral Principles, in various Nations, and Ages which is indeed a good Argument against innate Ideas, or Principles, but will not evidence Mankind to be void of a moral Sense to perceive Virtue or Vice in Actions, when they occur to their Observation.
The Grounds of this Diversity are principally these: i st. Different Opinions of Happiness, or natural Good, and of the most effectual Means to advance it. Thus in one Country, where there prevails a courageous Disposition, where Liberty is counted a great Good, and War an inconsiderable Evil, all Insurrections in Defence of Privileges, will have the Appearance of moral Good to our Sense, because of their appearing benevolent; and yet the same Sense of moral Good in Benevolence, shall in another Country, where the Spirits of Men are more abject and timorous, where Civil War appears the greatest natural Evil, and Liberty no great Purchase, make the same Actions appear odious, So in Sparta, where, thro' Contempt of Wealth, the Security of Possessions was not much regarded, but the thing chiefly desir'd, as naturally good to the State, was to abound in a hardy shifting Youth; Theft, if dexterously perform'd, was so little odious, that it receiv'd the Countenance of a Law to give it Impunity.
But in these, and all other Instances of the like nature, the Approbation is founded on Benevolence because of some real, or apparent Tendency to the publick Good. For we are not to imagine, that this Sense should give us, without Observation, Ideas of complex Actaons, or of their natural Tendencys to Good or Evil: It only determines us to approve Benevolence, whenever it appears in any Action, and to hate the contrary. So our Sense of Beauty does not, without Reflection, Instruction, or Observation, give us Ideas of the regular Solids, Temples, Cirques, and Theatres; but determines us to approve and delight in Uniformity amidst Variety, wherever we observe it. Let us read the Preambles of any Laws we count unjust, or the Vindications of any disputed Practice by the Moralists, and we shall find no doubt, that Men are often mistaken in computing the Excess of the natural Good, or evil Consequences of certain Actions; but the Ground on which any Action is approv'd, is still some Tendency to the greater natural Good of others, apprehended by those who approve it. 137 The same Reason may remove also the Objections against the Universality of this Sense, from some Storys of Travellers, concerning strange Crueltys practis'd toward the Aged, or Children, in certain Countrys. If such Actions be done in sudden angry Passions, they only prove, that other Motives, or Springs of Action, may overpower Benevolence in its strongest Ties; and if they really be universally allow'd, look'd upon as innocent, and vindicated; it is certainly under some Appearance of Benevolence; such as to secure them from Insults of Enemys, to avoid the Infirmltys of Age, which perhaps appear greater Evils than Death, or to free the vigorous and useful Citizens from the Charge of maintaining them, or the Troubles of Attendance upon them. A love of Pleasure and Ease, may, in the immediate Agents, be stronger in some Instances, than Gratitude toward Parents, or natural Affection to Children. But that such Nations are continu'd, notwithstanding all the Toil in educating their Young, is still a sufficient Proof of natural Affection: For I fancy we are not to imagine any nice Laws in such places, compelling Parents to a proper Education of some certain number of their Offspring. We know very well that an Appearance of publick Good, was the Ground of Laws, equally barbarous, enacted by Lycurgus and Solon, of killing the deform'd, or weak, to prevent a burdensome Croud of useless Citizens.
138 Men have Reason given them, to judge of the Tendencys of their Actions, that they may not stupidly follow the first Appearance of publick Good; but it is still some Appearance of Good which they pursue. And it is strange, that Reason is universally allow'd to Men, notwithstanding all the stupid, ridiculous Opinions receiv'd in many Places, and yet absuid Practices, founded upon those very Opinions, shall seem an Argument against any moral Sense; altho the bad Conduct is not owing to any Irregularity in the moral Sense, but to a wrong Judgment or Opinion. If putting the Aged to death, with all its Consequences, really tends to the publick Good, and to the lesser Misery of the Aged, it is no doubt justifiable; nay, perhaps the Aged chuse it, in hopes of a future State. If a deform'd, or weak Race, could never, by Ingenuity and Art, make themselves useful to Mankind, but should grow an absolutely unsupportable Burden, so as to involve a whole State in Misery, It is just to put them to death. This all allow to be just, in the Case of an overloaded Boat in a Storm. And as for killing of their Children, when Parents are sufficiently stock'd, it is perhaps practis'd, and allow'd from Self-love; but I can scarce think it passes for a good Action any where. If Wood, or Stone, or Metal be a Deity, have Government, and Power, and have been the Authors of Benefits to us; it is morally amiable to praise and worship them. Or if the true Deity be pleas'd with Worship before Statues, or any other Symbol of some more immediate Presence, or Influence Image-Worship is virtuous If he delights in Sacrifices, Penances, Ceremonys, Cringings; they are all laudable. Our Sense of Virtue, generally leads us exactly enough according to our Opinions; and therefore the absurd Practices which prevail in the World, are much better Arguments that Men have no Reason, than that they have no moral Sense of Beauty in Actions.
139 IV. The next Ground of Diversity in Sentiments, is the Diversity of Systems, to which Men, from foolish Opinions, confine their Benevolence. We insinuated above1 , that it is regular and beautiful to have stronger Benevolence, toward the morally good Parts of Mankind, who are useful to the Whole, than toward the useless or pernicious. Now if Men receive a low, or base Opinion of any Body, or Sect of Men; if they imagine them bent upon the Destruction of the more valuable Parts, or but useless Burdens of the Earth; Benevolence itself will lead them to neglect the Interests of such, and to suppress them. This is the Reason, why, among Nations who have high Notions of Virtue, every Action toward an Enemy may pass for just; why Romans, and Greeks, could approve of making those they call'd Barbarians, Slaves.
A late ingenious Author2 justly observes, 'That the various Sects, Partys, Factions, Cabals of Mankind in larger Societys, are all influenced by a publick Spirit: That some generous Notions of publick Good, some strong friendly Dispositions, raise them at first, and excite Men of the same Faction or Cabal to the most disinterested mutual Succour and Aid: That all the Contentions of the different Factions, and even the fiercest Wars against each other, are influenc'd by a sociable publick Spirit in a limited System.' But certain it is, that Men are little oblig'd to those, who often artfully raise and foment this Party Spirit; or cantonize them into several Sects for the Defence of very trifling Causes
140 Were we freely conversant with Robbers, who shew a moral Sense in the equal or proportionable Division of their Prey, and in Faith to each other, we should find they have their own sublime moral Ideas of their Party, as Generous, Courageous, Trusty, nay Honest too; and that those we call Honest and Industrious, are imagin'd by them to be Mean-spirited, Selfish, Churlish, or Luxurious; on whom that Wealth is ill bestow'd which therefore they would apply to better Uses, to maintain gallanter Men, who have a Right to a Living as well as their Neighbours, who are their profess'd Enemys. Nay, if we observe the Discourse of our profess'd Debauchees, our most dissolute Rakes, we shall find their Vices cloth'd, in their Imaginations, with some amiable Dress of Liberty, Generosity, just Resentment against the Contrivers of artful Rules to enslave Men, and rob them of their Pleasures.
141 Perhaps never any Men pursu'd Vice long with Peace of Mind, without some such deluding Imagination of moral Good1 .' while they may be still inadvertent to the barbarous and inhuman Consequences of their Actions. The Idea of an ill-natur'd Villain, is too frightful ever to become familiar to any Mortal Here we shall find, that the basest Actions are dress'd in some tolerable Mask. What others call Avarice, appears to the Agent a prudent Care of a Family, or Friends; Fraud, artful Conduct; Malice and Revenge, a just Sense of Honour and a Vindication of our Right in Possessions, of Fame; Fire and Sword, and Desolation among Enemys, a just thorow Defence of our Country; Persecution, a Zeal for the Truth, and for the eternal Happiness of Men, which Hereticks oppose. In all these Instances, Men generally act from a Sense of Virtue upon false Opinions, and mistaken Benevolence; upon wrong or partial Views of publick Good, and the means to promote it; or upon very narrow Systems form'd by like foolish Opinions. It is not a Delight in the Misery of others, or Malice, which occasions the horrid Crimes which fill our Historys; but generally an injudicious unreasonable Enthusiasm for some kind of limited Virtue.
142 V. The last Ground of Diversity which occurs, are the false Opinions of the Will or Laws of the Deity. To obey these we ale determm'd from Gratitude, and a Sense of Right imagin'd in the Deity, to dispose at pleasure the Fortunes of his Creatures. This is so abundantly known to have produc'd Follys, Superstitions, Murders, Devastations of Kingdoms, from a Sense of Virtue and Duty, that it is needless to mention particular Instances. Only we may observe, 'That all those Follys, or Barbaritys, rather confirm than destroy the Opinion of a moral Sense;' since the Deity is believ'd to have a Right to dispose of his Creatures; and Gratitude to him, if he be conceiv'd good, must move us to Obedience to his Will: if he be not concelv'd good, Self-Love may overcome our moral Sense of the Action which we undertake to avoid his Fury.
As for the Vices which commonly proceed from Love of Pleasure, or any violent Passion, since generally the Agent is soon sensible of their Evil, and that sometimes amidst the heat of the Action, they only prove, 'That this moral Sense, and Benevolence, may be overcome by the more importunate Sollicitations of other Desires.'
143 VI. Before we leave this Subject, it is necessary to remove one of the strongest Objections agamst what has been said so often, viz. 'That this Sense is natural, and independent on Custom and Education,' The Objection is this, 'That we shall find some Actions always attended with the strongest Abhorrence, even at first View, in some whole Nations, in which there appears nothing contrary to Benevolence; and that the same Actions shall in another Nation be counted innocent, or honourable. Thus Incest, among Christians, is abhorr'd at first appearance as much as Murder; even by those who do not know or reflect upon any necessary tendency of it to the detriment of Mankind. Now we generally allow, that what is from Nature in one Nation, would be so in all. This Abhorrence therefore cannot be from Nature, since in Greece, the marrying half Sisters was counted honourable; and among the Persian Magi, the marrying of Mothers. Say they then, may not all our Approbation or Dislike of Actions arise the same way from Custom and Education?'
The Answer to this may be easily found from what is already said. Had we no moral Sense natural to us, we should only look upon Incest as hurtful to our selves, and shun it, and never hate other incestuous Persons, more than we do a broken Merchant; so that still this Abhorrence supposes a Sense of moral Good. And further, it is true, that many who abhor Incest do not know, or reflect upon the natural tendency of some sorts of Incest to the publick Detriment; but wherever it is hated, it is apprehended as offensive to the Deity, and that it exposes the Persons concern'd to his just Vengeance. Now it is universally acknowledg'd to be the grossest Ingratitude and Baseness, in any Creature, to counteract the WilI of the Deity, to whom it is under such Obligations. This then is plainly a moral evil Quality apprehended in Incest, and reducible to the general Foundation of Malice, or rather Want of Benevolence. Nay further, where this Opinion, 'that Incest is offensive to the DEITY,' prevails, Incest must have another direct Contrariety to Benevolence since we must apprehend the Incestuous, as exposing an Associate, who should be dear to him by the Ties of Nature, to the lowest State of Misery and Baseness, Infamy and Punishment. But in those Countrys where no such Opinion prevails of the DeitV's abhorring or prohibiting Incest; if no obvious natural Evils attend it, it may be look'd upon as innocent. And further, as Men who have the Sense of Tasting, may, by Company and Education, have Prejudices against Meats they never tasted, as unsavoury so may Men, who have a moral Sense, acquire an Opinion by implicit Faith, of the moral Evil of Actions, altho they do not themselves discern in them any tendency to natural Evil; imagining that others do: or, by Education, they may have some Ideas associated, which raise an abhonence without Reason. But without a moral Sense, we could receive no Prejudice against Actions, under any other Vmw than as naturally disadvantageous to our selves.
144 VII. The Universality of this moral Sense, and that it is antecedent to Instruction, may appear from observing the Sentiments of Children, upon hearing the Storys with which they are commonly entertain'd as soon as they understand Language. They always passionately interest themselves on that side where Kindness and Humamty are found; and detest the Cruel, the Covetous, the Selfish, or the Treacherous. How strongly do we see their passions of Joy, Sorrow, Love, and Indignation, mov'd by these moral Representations, even the there has been no pains taken to give them Ideas of a Deity, of Laws, of a future State, or of the more intricate Tendency of the universal Good to that of each Individual!
A further Confirmation that we have practical dispositions to Virtue implanted in our nature; with a further explication of our instinct to benevolence in its various degrees j with the additional motives of interest_ viz. honour, shame and pity.
145 I. We have already endeavour'd to prove, 'That there is a universal Determination to Benevolence in Mankind, even toward the most distant parts of the Species:' But we are not to imagine that this Benevolence is equal, or in the same degree toward all. There are some nearer and stronger Degrees of Benevolence, when the Objects stand in some nearer relations to our selves, which have obtam'd distract Names such as natural Affection, and Gratitude or when Benevolence is increas'd by greater Love of Esteem.
One Species of natural Affection, viz. that in Parents towards their Children, has been conslder'd already1; we shall only observe further, that there is the same kind of affection among collateral Relations, the in a weaker degree; which is universally observable where no Opposttion of Interest produces contrary Actions, or counterballances the Power of this natural affection.
We may also observe, that as to the Affection of Parents, it cannot be entirely founded on Merit or Acquaintance; not only because it is antecedent to all Acquaintance, which might occasion the Love of Esteem but because it operates where Acquaintance would produce Hatred, even toward Children apprehended to be vitious. And this Affection is further confirm'd to be from Nature, because it is always observ'd to descend, and not ascend from Children to Parents mutually. Nature, who seems sometimes frugal in her Operations, has strongly determin'd Parents to the Care of their Children, because they universally stand in absolute need of Support from them; but has left it to Reflection, and a Sense of Gratitude, to produce Returns of Love in Children, toward such tender kind Benefactors, who very seldom stand in such absolute need of Support from their Posterity, as their Children did from them. Now did Acquaintance, or Merit produce natural Affection, we surely should find it strongest in Children, on whom all the Obligations are laid by a thousand good Offices; which yet is quite contrary to Observation. Nay, this Principle seems not confin'd to Mankind, but extends to other Animals, where yet we scarcely ever suppose any Ideas of Merit; and is observ'd to continue in them no longer than the Necessltys of their Young require. Nor could it be of any service to the Yeung that it should, since when they are grown up, they can recelve little Benefit from the Love of their Dams, But as it is otherwise with rational Agents, so their Affechons are of longer continuance, even durmg their whole hves. 146 II. But nothing will give us a juster Idea of the wise Order in which human Nature is form'd for unxversal Love, and mutual good Offices, than considering that strong attraction of Benevolence, which we call Gratitude. Every one knows that Beneficence toward our selves makes a much deeper Impression upon us, and raises Gratitude, or a stronger Love toward the Benefactor, than equal Beneficence toward a third Person1 Now because of the vast Numbers of Mankind, their distant Habitatmns, and the Incapacity of any one to be remarkably useful to vast Multitudes; that our Benevolence might not be quite distracted with a multiplicity of Objects, whose equal Virtues would equally recommend them to our regard; or become useless, by being equally extended to MulUtudes at vast distances, whose Interests we could not understand, nor be capable of promoting, having no Intercourse of Offices with them Nature has more powerfully determm'd us to admire, and love the moral Qualitys of others which affect our selves, and has given us more powerful Impressions of Good-will toward those who are beneficent to our selves. This we call Gratitude. And thus a Foundation is laid for joyful Associations in all kinds of Business, and virtuous Friendships.
By this Constitution also the Benefactor is more encourag'd in his Beneficence, and better secur'd of an increase of Happiness by grateful Returns2 , than if his "Virtue were only to be honour'd by the colder general Sentiments of Persons un-concern'd, who could not know his Necessitys, nor how to be profitable to him; especially, when they would all be equally determin'd to love innumerable Multitudes, whose equal Virtues would have the same Pretensions to their Love, were there not an increase of Love, according as the Object is more nearly attach'd to us, or our Friends, by good Offices which affect our selves, or them.
147 This universal Benevolence toward all Men, we may compare to that Principle of Gravitation, which perhaps extends to all Body's in the Universe; but, like the Love of Benevolence, increases as the Distance is diminish'd, and is strongest when Body's come to touch each other. Now this increase of Attraction upon nearer Approach, is as necessary to the Frame of the Universe, as that there should be any Attraction at at. For a general Attraction, equal in all Distances, would by the Contrariety of such multitudes of equal Forces, put an end to all Regularity of Motion, and perhaps stop it altogether.
This increase of Love toward the Benevolent, according to their nearer Approaches to our selves by their Benefits, is observable in the high degree of Love, which Heroes and Lawgivers universally obtain in their own Countrys, above what they find abroad, even among those who are not insensible of their Virtues; and in all the strong Ties of Friendship, Acquaintance, Neighbourhood, Partnership; which are exceedingly necessary to the Order and Happiness of human Society.
148 III. From considering that strong Determination in our Nature to Gratitude, and Love toward our Benefactors, which was already shewn to be disinterested1 ; we are easily led to consider another Determination of our Minds, equally natural with the former, which is to delight in the good Opinion and Love of others, even when we expect no other Advantage from them, except what flows from this Constitution, whereby Honour is made an immediate Good. This Desire of Honour I would call Ambition, had not Custom join'd some evil Ideas to that Word, makmg it denote such a violent desire of Honour, and of Power also, as will make us stop at no base Means to obtain them. On the other hand, we are by Nature subjected to a grievous Sensation of Misery, from the unfavourable Opinions of others concerning us, even when we dread no other Evil from them. This we call ShaMe which in the same manner is constituted an immediate Evtl, as we said Honour was an immediate Good.
Now were there no moral Sense, or had we no other Idea of Actions but as advantageous or hurtful, I see no reason why we should be delighted with Honour, or subjected to the uneasiness of Shame; or how it could ever happen, that a Man, who is secure from Punishment for any Action, should ever be uneasy at its being known to all the World. The World may have the worse Opinion of him for it; but what subjects my Ease to the Opinion of the World? Why, perhaps, we shall not be so much trusted henceforward in Business, and so suffer Loss. If this be the only reason of Shame, and it has no immediate Evil, or Pain in it, distinct from Fear of Loss; then wherever we expose ourselves to Loss, we should be asham'd and endeavour to conceal the Action: and yet it is quite otherwise.
A Merchant, for instance, lest it should impair his Credit, conceals a Shipwrack, or a very bad Market, which he has sent his Goods to. But is this the same with the Passion of Shame? Has he that Anguish, that Dejection of Mind, and Self-condemnation, which one shall have whose Treachery is detected? Nay, how will Men sometimes glory in their Losses, when in a Cause imagin'd morally good, tho they really weaken their Credit in the Merchant's Sense that is, the Opinion of their Wealth, or fitness for Business? Was any Man ever asham'd of impoverishing himself to serve his Country, or his Friend? 149 IV. The Opinions of our Country are by some made the first Standard of Virtue. They alledge, 'That by comparing Actions to them, we first distinguish between moral Good, and Evil: And then, say they, Ambition, or the Love of HONOUR, is our chief Motive.' But what is Honour? It is not the being universally known, no matter how. A covetous Man is not honour'd by being universally known as covetous; nor a weak, selfish, or luxurious Man, when he is known to be so: Much less can a treacherous, cruel, or ungrateful Man, be said to be honour'd for his being known as such. A Posture-master, a Fire-eater, or Practiser of Leger-de-main, is not honour'd for these publick Shews, unless we consider him as a Person capable of giving the Pleasures of Admiration and Surprize to Multitudes. Honour then is the Opinion of others concerning our morally good Actions, or Abilitys presum'd to be apply'd that way for Abilitys constantly apply'd to other Purposes, procure the greatest Infamy. Now, it is certain, that Ambition, or Love of Honour is really selfish; but then this Determination to love Honour, presupposes a Sense of moral Virtue, both in the Persons who confer the Honour, and in him who pursues it.
And let it be observ'd, that if we knew an Agent had no other Motive of Action than Ambition, we should apprehend no Virtue even in his most useful Actions, since they flow'd not from any Love to others, or Desire of their Happiness. When Honour is thus constituted by Nature pleasant to us, it may be an additional Motive to Virue, as we said above1 , the Pleasure arising from Reflection on our Benevolence was: but the Person whom we imagine perfectly virtuous, acts immediately from the Love of others; however these refin'd Interests may be joint Motives to him to set about such a Course of Actions, or to cultivate every kind Inclination, and to despise every contrary Interest, as giving a smaller Happiness than Reflection on his own Virtue, and Consciousness of the Esteem of others.
Shame is in the same manner constituted an immediate Evil, and influences us the same way to abstain from moral Evil; not that any Action or Omission would appear virtuous, where the sole Motive was Fear of Shame.
150 V. But to enquire further, how far the Opinions of our Company can raise a Sense of moral Good or Evil. If any Opinion be universal in any Country, Men of little Reflection will probably embrace it. If an Action be believ'd to be advantageous to the Agent, we may be led to believe so too, and then Self-Love may make us undertake it; or may, the same way, make us shun an Action reputed pernicious to the Agent. If an Action pass for advantageous to the Publick, we may believe so too; and what next? If we have no disinterested Benevolence, what shall move us to undertake it? 'Why, we love Honour; and to obtain this Pleasure, we will undertake the Action from Self-Interest.' Now, is Honour only the Opinion of our Country that an Action is advantageous to the Publick? No: we see no Honour paid to the useful Treachery of an Enemy whom we have brib'd to our Side, to casual undesign'd Services, or to the most useful Effects of Compulsion on Cowards and yet we see Honour paid to unsuccessful Attempts to serve the Publick from sincere Love to it. Honour then presupposes a Sense of something amiable besides Advantage, viz. a Sense of Excellence in a publick Spirit; and therefore the first Sense of moral Good must be antecedent to Honour, for Honour is founded upon it. The Company we keep may lead us, without examining, to believe that certain Actions tend to the publick Good; but that our Company honours such Actions, and loves the Agent, must flow from a Sense of some Excellence in this Love of the Publick, and serving its Interests.
151 We therefore, say they again, pretend to love the Publick, altho we only desire the Pleasure of Honour; and we will applaud all who seem to act in that manner, either that we may reap Advantage from their Actions, or that others may believe we really love the Publick.' But shall any Man ever really love the publick, or study the Good of others in his heart, if Self-love be the only spring of his Actions? No: that is impossible. Or, shall we ever really love Men who appear to love the Publick, without a moral Sense? No: we could form no Idea of such a Temper; and as for these Pretenders to publick Love, we should hate them as Hypocrites, and our Rivals in Fame. Now this is all which could be effected by the Opinions of our Country, even supposing they had a moral Sense, provided we had none our selves: They never could make us admire Virtue, or virtuous Characters in others; but could only give us Opinions of Advantage, or Disadvantage in Actions, according as they tended to procure us the Pleasures of Honour, or the Pain of Shame.
But if we suppose that Men have, by Nature, a moral Sense of Goodness in Actions, and that they are capable of disinterested Love; all is easy. The Opinions of our Company may make us rashly conclude, that certain Actions tend to the universal Detriment, and are morally Evil, when perhaps they are not so; and then our Sense may determine us to have an Aversion to them, and their Authors or we may, the same way, he led into implicit Prejudices in favour of Actions as good; and then our desire of Honour may co-operate with Benevolence, to move us to such Actions: but had we no Sense of moral Qualitys in Actions, nor any Conceptions of them, except as advantageous or hurtful, we never could have honour'd or lov'd Agents for publick Love, or had any regard to their Actions, further than they affected our selves in particular. We might have form'd the metaphysical Idea of publick Good, but we had never desir'd it, further than it tended to our own private Interest, without a Principle of Benevolence; nor admir'd and lov'd those who were studious of it, without a moral Sense. So far is Virtue from being (in the Language of a late1 Author) the Offspring of Flattery, begot upon Pride; that Pride, in the bad meaning of that Word, is the spurious Brood of Ignorance by our moral Sense, and Flattery only an Engine, which the Cunning may use to turn this moral Sense in others, to the Purposes of Self-love in the Flatterer.
152 VI. To explain what has been said of the Power of Honour. Suppose a State or Prince, observing the Money which is drawn out of England by Italian Musicians, should decree Honours, Statues, Titles, for great Musicians: This would certainly excite all who had hopes of Success, to the Study of Musick; and Men of a good Ear would approve of the good Performers as useful Subjects, as well as very entertaining. But would this give all Men a good Ear, or make them delight in Harmony? Or could it ever make us really love a Musician, who study'd nothing but his own Gain, in the same manner we do a Patriot, or a generous Friend? I doubt not. And yet Friendship, without the Assistance of Statues, or Honours, can make Persons appear exceedingly amiable.
Let us take another Instance. Suppose Statues, and triumphal Arches were decreed, as well as a large Sum of Money, to the Discoverer of the Longitude, or any other useful Invention in Mathematicks: This would raise a universal Desire of such Knowledge from Self-Love; but would Men therefore love a Mathematician as they do a virtuous Man? Would a Mathematician love every Person who had attain'd Perfection in that Knowledge, wherever he obsei'v'd it, altho he knew that it was not accompany'd with any Love to Mankind, or Study of their Good, but with Ill-nature, Pride, Covetousness? In short, let us honour other Qualitys by external Shew as much as we please, if we do not discern a benevolent Intention in the Application, or presume upon it; we may look upon these Qualitys as useful, enriching, or otherwise advantageous to any one who is possess'd of them but they shall never meet with those endearing Sentiments of Esteem and Love, which our Nature determines us to appropriate to Benevolence, or Virtue.
153 Love of Honour, and Aversion to Shame, may often move us to do Actions for which others profess to honour us, even the we see no Good in them our selves: And Compliance with the Inclinations of others, as it evidences Humanity, may procure some Love to the Agent, from Spectators who see no moral Good in the Action it self. But without some Sense of Good in the Actions, Men shall never be fond of such Actions in Solitude, nor ever love any one for Perfection in them, or for practising them in Solitude; and much less shall they be dissatisfy'd with themselves when they act otherwise in Solitude. Now this is the case with us, as to Virtue; and therefore we must have, by Nature, a moral Sense of it antecedent to Honour. This will shew us with what Judgment a late1 Author compares the Original of our Ideas of Virtue, and Approbation of it, to the manner of regulating the Behaviour of aukard Children by Commendation. It shall appear afterward2 that our Approbataon of some Gestures, and what we call Decency in Motion, depends upon some moral Ideas in People of advanc'd Years. But before Children come to observe this Relation, at is only good Nature, an Inclination to please, and Love of Praise, which makes them endeavour to behave as they are desir'd; and not any Perception of Excellence in this Behaviour. Hence they are not sollicltous about Gestures when alone, unless with a View to please when they return to Company nor do they ever love or approve others for any Perfection of this kind, but rather envy or hate them till they either discern the Connexion between Gestures, and moral Qualitys; or reflect on the good Nature, which is evidenc'd by such a Compliance with the desire of the Company.
154 VII. The considering Honour in the manner above explain'd, may shew us the reason, why Men are often asham'd for things which are not vitious, and honour'd for what is not virtuous. For, if any Action only appears vitious to any Persons or Company, altho it be not so, they will have a bad Idea of the Agent; and then he may be asham'd, or suffer Uneasiness in being thought morally Evil. The same way, those who look upon an Action as morally good, will honour the Agent, and he may be pleas'd with the Honour, altho he does not himself perceive any moral Good in what has procur'd it.
Again, we shall be asham'd of every Evidence of moral Incapacity, or Want of Ability; and with good ground, when this Want is occasion'd by our own Negligence. Nay further, if any Circumstance be look'd upon as indecent in any Country, offenslvc to others, or deform'd; we shall, out of our Love to the good Oplnions of others, be asham'd to be found in such Circumstances, even when we are sensible that this Indecency or Offence is not founded on Nature, but is merely the Effect of Custom. Thus being observ'd in those Functlons of Nature which are counted indecent and offensive, will make us uneasy, altho we arc sensible that they really do not argue any Vice or Weakness. But on the contrary, since moral Abilitys of any kind, upon the general Presumption of a good Application, procure the Esteem of others, we shall value our selves upon them, or grow proud of them, and be asham'd of any Discovery of our want of such Abilitys. this Is the reason that Wealth and Power, the great Engines of Virtue, when presum'd to be intended for benevolent Purposes, either toward our Friends or our Country, procure Honour from others, and are apt to beget Pride in the Possessor; which, as it is a general Passion which may be either good or evil, according as it is grounded, we may describe to be the Joy which arises from the real or imagin'd Possession of Honour, or Claim to It. The same are the Effects of Knowledge, Sagacity, Strength; and hence it is that Men are apt to boast of them.
But whenever it appears that Men have only their private Advantage in view, in the application of these Abilitys, or natural Advantages, the Honour ceases, and we study to conceal them, or at least are not fond of displaying them; and much more when there is any Suspicion of an ill-natur'd Application. Thus some Misers are asham'd of their Wealth, and study to conceal it; as the malicious or selfish do their Power: Nay, this is very often done where there is no positive evil Intention; because the diminishing their Abilitys, increases the moral Good of any little kind Action, which they can find in their hearts to perform.
In short, we always see Actions which flow from publick Love, accompany'd with generous Boldness and Openness; and not only malicious, but even selfish ones, the matter of Shame and Confusion and that Men study to conceal them. The Love of private Pleasure is the ordinary occasion of Vice; and when Men have got any lively Notions of Virtue, they generally begin to be asham'd of every thing which betrays Selfishness, even in Instances where it is innocent. We are apt to imagine, that others observing us in such Pursuits, form mean Opinions of us, as too much set on private Pleasure; and hence we shall find such Enjoyments, in most polite Nations, conceal'd from those who do not partake with us. Such are venereal Pleasures between Persons marry'd, and even eating and drinking alone, any nicer sorts of Meats or Drinks; whereas a hospitable Table is rather matter of boasting; and so are all other kind, generous Offices between marry'd Persons, where there is no Suspicion of Self-love in the Agent; but he is imagin'd as acting from Love to his Associate. This, I fancy, first introduc'd Ideas of Modesty in polite Nations, and Custom has strengthen'd them wonderfully; so that we are now asham'd of many things, upon some confus'd implicit Opinions of moral Evil, tho we know not upon what account.
Here too we may see the reason, why we are not asham'd of any of the Methods of Grandeur, or high-Living. There is such a Mixture of moral Ideas, of Benevolence, of Abilitys kindly employ'd so many Dependants supported, so many Friends entertain'd, assisted, protected; such a Capacity imagin'd for great and amiable Actions, that we are never asham'd, but rather boast of such things: We never affect Obscurity or Concea]ment, but rather desire that our State and Magnificence should be known. Were it not for this Conjunction of moral Ideas, no Mortal could bear the Drudgery of State, or abstain from laughing at those who did. Could any Man be pleas'd with a Company of Statues surrounding his Table, so artfully contriv'd as to consume his various Courses, and inspir'd by some Servant, like so many Puppets, to give the usual trifling Returns in praise of their Fare? Or with so many Machines to perform the Cringes and Whispers of a Levee?
The Shame we suffer from the Meanness of Dress, Table, Equipage, is entirely owing to the same reason. This Meanness is often imagin'd to argue Avarice, Meanness of Spirit, want of Capacity, or Conduct in Life, of Industry, or moral Abilitys of one kind or other. To confirm this, let us observe that Men will glory in the Meanness of their Fare, when it was occasion'd by a good Action. How many would be asham'd to be surpriz'd at a Dinner of cold Meat, who will boast of their having fed upon Dogs and Horses at the Siege of Derry? And they will all tell you that they were not, nor are asham'd of it.
This ordinary Connexion in our Imagination, between external Grandeur, Regularity in Dress, Equipage, Retinue, Badges of Honour, and some moral Abilitys greater than ordinary, is perhaps of more consequence in the World than some recluse Philosophers apprehend, who pique themselves upon despising these external Shews. This may possibly be a great, if not the only Cause of what some count miraculous, viz. That Civil Governors of no greater Capacity than their Neighbours, by some inexpressible Awe, and Authority, quell the Spirits of the Vulgar, and keep them in subjection by such small Guards, as might easily be conquer'd by those Associations which might be rais'd among the Disaffected, or Factious of any State; who are daring enough among their Equals, and shew a sufficient Contempt of Death for undertaking such an Enterprize.
155 Hence also we may discover the reason, why the gratifying our superior Senses of Beauty and Harmony, or the Enjoyment of the Pleasures of Knowledge, never occasions any Shame or Confusion, the our Enjoyment were known to all the World. The Objects which furnish this Pleasure, are of such a nature, as to afford the same Delights to multitudes; nor is there any thing in the Enjoyment of them by one, which excludes any Mortal from a like Enjoyment. So that altho we pursue these Enjoyments from Self-love, yet, since our Enjoyment cannot be prejudicial to Others, no Man is imagin'd any way inhumanly selfish, from the fullest Enjoyment of them which is possible. The same Regularity or Harmony which delights me, may at the same time delight multitudes; the same Theorem shall be equally fruitful of Pleasure, when it has entertain'd thousands. Men therefore are not asham'd of such Pursuits, since they never, of themselves, seduce us into any thing malicious, envious, or ill-natur'd nor does any one apprehend another too selfish, from his pursuing Objects of unexhausted universal Pleasure.
This View of Honour and Shame may also let us see the reason, why most Men are uneasy at being prais'd, when they themselves are present. Every one is delighted with the Esteem of others, and must enjoy great Pleasure when he hears himself commended but we are unwilling others should observe our Enjoyment of this Pleasure, which is really selfish or that they should imagine us fond of it, or influenced by hopes of it in our good Actions: and therefore we chuse Secrecy for the Enjoyment of it, as we do with respect to other Pleasures, in which others do not share with us. 156 VIII. Let us next consider another Determination of our Mind, which strongly proves Benevolence to be natural to us, and that is Compassion by which we are dispos'd to study the Interest of others, without any Views of private Advantage. This needs little Illustration. Every Mortal is made uneasy by any grievous Misery he sees another involv'd in, unless the Person be imagin'd evil, in a moral Sense: Nay, it is almost impossible for us to be unmov'd, even in that Case. Advantage may make us do a cruel Action, or may overcome Pity; but it scarce ever extinguishes it. A sudden Passion of Hatred or Anger may represent a Person as absolutely evil, and so extinguish Pity but; when the Passion is over, it often returns. Another disinterested View may even in cold blood overcome Pity; such as Love to our Country, or Zeal for Religion. Persecution is generally occaslon'd by Love of Virtue, and a Desire of the eternal Happiness of Mankind, altho our Folly makes us chuse absurd Means to promote it; and is often accompany'd with Pity enough to make the Persecutor uneasy, in what, for prepollent Reasons, he chuses; unless his Opinion leads him to look upon the Heretick as absolutely and entlrely evil.
We may here observe how wonderfully the Constitution of human Nature is adapted to move Compassion. Our Misery or Distress immedately appears in our Countenance, if we do not study to prevent it, and propagates some Pain to all Spectators; who from Observation, universally understand the meaning of those dismal Airs. We mechamcally send forth Shrieks and Groans upon any surpnzing Apprehension of Evil; so that no regard to Decency can sometimes restrain them. This is the voice of Nature, understood by all Nations, by which all who are present are rous'd to our Assistance, and sometimes our injurious Enemy is made to relent.
157 We observ'd above1 that we are not immediately excited by Compassion to desire the Removal of our own Paie: we think it just to be so affected upon the Occasion, and dislike those who are not so. But we are excited directly to demre the Relief of the Miserable; without any imagination that this Relief is a private Good to our selves: And if we see this impossible, we may by Reflection discern it to be vain for us to indulge our Compassion any further; and then Self-love prompts us to retire from the Object which occasions our Pain, and to endeavour to divert our Thoughts. But where there is no such Reflection, People are hurry'd by a natural, kind Instinct, to see Objects of Compassion, and expose themselves to this Pain when they can give no reason for it; as in the Instance of publick Executlions.
This same Principle leads men to Tragedys; only we are to observe, that another strong reason of this, is the moral Beauty of the Characters and Actions which we love to behold. For I doubt, whether any Audience would be pleas'd to see fictitious Scenes of Misery, if they were kept strangers to the moral Qualitys of the Sufferers, or their Characters and Actions. As in such a case, there would be no Beauty to raise Desire of seeing such Representations, I fancy we would not expose our selves to Pain alone, from Misery which we knew to be fictitious.
It was the same Cause which crouded the Roman Theatres to see Gladiators. There the People had frequent Instances of great Courage, and Contempt of Death, two great moral Abilitys, if not Virtues. Hence Cicero looks upon them as great Instructions in Fortitude. The Antagonist Gladiator bore all the blame of the Cruelty committed, among People of little Reflection; and the courageous and artful one, really obtain'd a Reputation of Virtue, and Favour among the Spectators, and was vindicated by the Necessity of Self-defence. In the mean time they were inadvertent to this, that their crouding to such Sights, and favouring the Persons who presented them with such Spectacles of Courage, and with Opportunitys of following their natural Instinct to Compassion, was the true occasion of all the real Distress, or Assaults which they were sorry for.
What Sentiments can we imagine a Candidate would have rais'd of himself, had he presented his Countrymen only with Scenes of Misery had he drain'd Hospitals and Infirmarys of all their pityable Inhabitants, or had he bound so many Slaves, and without any Resistance, butcher'd them with his own Hands? I should very much question the Success of his Election, (however Compassion might cause his Shews still to be frequented) if his Antagonist chose a Diversion apparently more vlrtuous, or with a Mixture of Scenes of Virtue.
How independent this Disposition to Compassion is on Custom, Education, or Instruction, will appear from the Prevalence of it in Women and Children, who are less influenc'd by these. That Children delight in some Actions which are cruel and tormenting to Animals which they have in their Power, flows not from Mahce, or want of Compassion, but from their Ignorance of those signs of Pain which many Creatures make; together with a Curiosity to see the various Contortions of their Bodys. For when they are more acquainted with these Creatures, or come by any means to know their Sufferings, their Compassion often becomes too strong for their Reason as it generally does in beholding Executions, where as soon as they observe the evidences of Distress, or Pain in the Malefactor, they are apt to condemn this necessary. Method of Self-defence in the State.
Concerning the importance of this Moral Sense to the present happiness of mankind, and its influence on human affairs.
158 It may now probably appear, that notwithstanding the Corruption of Manners so justly complain'd of every where, this moral Sense has a greater Influence on Mankind than is generally imagin'd, altho it is often directed by very partial imperfect Views of publick Good, and often overcome by Self-love. But we shall offer some further Considerations, to prove, 'That it gives us more Pleasure and Pain than all our other Facultys.' And to prevent Repetitions, let us observe, 'That wherever any morally good Quality gives Pleasure from Reflection, or from Honour, the contrary evil one will give proportionable Pain, from Remorse and Shame.' Now we shall consider the moral Pleasures, not only separately, but as they are the most delightful Ingredient in the ordinary Pleasures of Life.
159 All Men seem persuaded of some Excellency in the Possession of good moral Qualitys, which is superior to all other Enjoyments and on the contrary, look upon a State of moral Evil, as worse and more wretched than any other whatsoever. We must not form our Judgment in this matter from the Actions of Men; for however they may be influenc'd by moral Sentiments, yet it is certain, that Self-interested Passions frequently overcome them, and partial Views of the Tendency of Actions, make us do what is really morally evil, apprehending it to be good. But let us examine the Sentiments which Men universally form of the State of others, when they are no way immediately concern'd; for in these Sentiments human Nature is calm and undisturb'd, and shews its true Face.
Now should we imagine a rational Creature in a sufficiently happy State, the his Mind was, without Interruption, wholly occupy'd with pleasant Sensations of Smell, Taste, Touch, &c. if at the same time all other Ideas were excluded? Should we not think the State low, mean and sordid, if there were no Society, no Love or Friendship, no Good Offices? What then must that State be wherein there are no Pleasures but those of the external Senses, with such long Intervals as human Nature at present must have? Do these short Fits of Pleasure make the Luxurious happy? How insipid and joyless are the Reflections on past Pleasure? And how poor a Recompence is the Return of the transient Sensation, for the nauseous Satietys, and Languors in the Intervals? This Frame of our Nature, so incapable of long Enjoyments of the external Senses, points out to us, 'That there must be some other more durable Pleasure, without such tedious Interruptions, and nauseous Reflections.'
Let us even join with the Pleasures of the external Senses, the Perceptions of Beauty, Order, Harmony. These are no doubt more noble Pleasures, and seem to inlarge the Mind; and yet how cold and joyless are they, if there be no moral Pleasures of Friendship, Love and Beneficence? Now if the bare Absence of moral Good, makes, in our Judgment, the State of a rational Agent contemptible; the Presence of contrary Dispositions is always imagin'd by us to sink him into a degree of Misery, from which no other Pleasures can relieve him. Would we ever wish to be in the same Condition with a wrathful, malicious, revengeful, or envious Being, the we were at the same time to enjoy all the Pleasures of the external and internal Senses? The internal Pleasures of Beauty and Harmony, contribute greatly indeed toward soothing the Mind into a forgetfulness of Wrath, Malice or Revenge; and they must do so, before we can have any tolerable Delight or Enjoyment: for while these Affections possess the Mind, there is nothing but Torment and Misery.
What Castle-builder, who forms to himself imaginary Scenes of Life, in which he thinks he should be happy, ever made acknowledg'd Treachery, Cruelty, or Ingratitude, the Steps by which he mounted to his wish'd for Elevation, or Parts of his Character, when he had attain'd it? We always conduct our selves in such Resveries, according to the Dictates of Honour, Faith, Generosity, Courage; and the lowest we can sink, is hoping we may be enrich'd by some innocent Accident.
O si urnam Argenti FORS qua mihi monstrety1 —
But Labour, Hunger, Thirst, Poverty, Pain, Danger, have nothing so detestable in them, that our Self-love cannot allow us to be often expos'd to them. On the contrary, the Virtues which these give us occasions of displaying, are so amiable and excellent, that scarce ever is any imaginary Hero in Romance, or Epic, brought to his highest Pitch of Happiness, without going thro them all. Where there is no Virtue, there is nothing worth Desire or Contemplation; the Romance, or Epos must end. Nay, the Difficulty2 , or natural Evil, does so much increase the Virtue of the good Action which it accompanys, that we cannot easily sustain these Works after the Distress is over; and if we continue the Work, it must be by presenting a new Scene of Benevolence in a prosperous Fortune. A Scene of external Prosperity or natural Good, without any thing moral or virtuous, cannot entertain a Person of the dullest Imagination, had he ever so much interested himself in the Fortunes of his Hero; for where Virtue ceases, there remains nothing worth wishing to our Favourite, or which we can be delighted to view his Possession of, when we are most studious of his Happiness.
160 Let us take a particular Instance, to try how much we prefer the Possession of Virtue to all other Enjoyments, and how we look upon Vice as worse than any other Misery. Who could ever read the History of Regulus, without concerning himself in the Fortunes of that gallant Man, sorrowing at hts Sufferings, and wishing him a better Fate? But how a better Fate? Should he have comply'd with the Terms of the Carthaginians, and preserv'd _himself from the intended Tortures, the to the detriment of his Country? Or should he have violated his phghted Faith and Promise of returning? Will any Man say, that either of these is the better Fate he wishes his Favourite? Had he acted thus, that Virtue would have been gone, which interests every one in his Fortunes.—' Let him take his Fate like other common Mortals.'—What else do we wish then, but that the Carthaginians had relented of their Cruelty, or that Providence, by some unexpected Event, had rescued him out of their hands.
Now may not this teach us, that we are indeed determin'd to judge Virtue with Peace and Safety, preferable to Virtue with Distress; but that at the same time we look upon the State of the Virtuous, the Publick-spirited, even in the utmost natural Distress, as preferable to all affluence of other Enjoyments? For this is what we chuse to have our Favourite Hero in, notwithstanding all its Pains and natural Evils. We should never have imagin'd him happier, had he acted otherwise or thought him in a more eligible State, with Liberty and Safety, at the expence of his Virtue. We secretly judge the Purchase too dear; and therefore we never imagine he acted foolishly in securing his Virtue, his Honour, at the expence of his Ease, his Pleasure, his Life. Nor can we think these latter Enjoyments worth the keeping, when the former are entirely lost.
161 II. Let us in the same manner examine our Sentiments of the Happiness of others in common Life. Wealth and External Pleasures bear no small bulk in our Imaginations; but does there not always accompany this Opinion of Happiness in Wealth, some suppos'd beneficent Intention of doing good Offices to Persons dear to us, at least to our Familys, or Kinsmen? And in our imagin'd Happiness from external Pleasure, are not some Ideas always included of some moral Enjoyments of Society, some Communication of Pleasure, something of Love, of Friendship, of Esteem, of Gratitude? Who ever pretended to a Taste of these Pleasures without Society? Or if any seem violent in pursuit of them, how base and contemptible do they appear to all Persons, even to those who could have no expectation of Advantage from their having a more generous Notion of Pleasure?
Now were there no moral Sense, no Happiness in Benevolence, and did we act from no other Principle than Self-love; sure there is no Pleasure of the external Senses, which we could not enjoy alone, with less trouble and expence than in Society. But a Mixture of the moral Pleasures is what gives the alluring Relish; 'tis some Appearance of Friendship, of Love, of communicating Pleasure to others, which preserves the Pleasures of the Luxurious from being nauseous and insipid. And this partial Imagination of some good moral Qualitys, some Benevolence, in Actions which have many cruel, inhuman, and destructive Consequences toward others, is what has kept Vice more in countenance than any other Consideration1
But to convince us further wherein the Happiness of Wealth, and external Pleasure lies; let us but suppose Malice, Wrath, Revenge; or only Solitude, Absence of Friendship, of Love, of Society, of Esteem, join'd with the Possession of them; and all the Happiness vanishes like a Dream. And yet Love, Friendship, Society, Humanity, the accompany'd with Poverty and Toil, nay even with smaller degrees of Pain, such as do not wholly occupy the Mind, are not only the Object of Love from others, but even of a sort of Emulation: which plainly shews, 'That Virtue is the chief Happiness in the Judgment of all Mankind.'
162 III. There is a further Consideration which must not be pass'd over, concerning the External Beauty of Persons, which all allow to have a great Power over human Minds. Now it is some apprehended Morality, some natural or imagin'd Indication of concomitant Virtue, which gives it this powerful Charm above all other kinds of Beauty. Let us consider the Characters of Beauty, which are commonly admir'd in Countenances, and we shall find them to be Sweetness, Mildness, Majesty, Dignity, Vivacity, Humility, Tenderness, Goodnature that is, that certain Airs, Proportions, je ne scai quoy's are natural Indications of such Virtues, or of Abilitys or Dispositions toward them. As we observ'd above1 of Misery, or Distress appearing in Countenances so it is certain, almost all habitual Dispositions of Mind, form the Countenance in such a manner, as to give some Indications of them to the Spectator. Our violent Passions are obvious at first view in the Countenance; so that sometimes no Art can conceal them: and smaller degrees of them give some less obvious Turns to the Face, which an accurate Eye will observe. Now when the natural Air of a Face approaches to that which any Passion would form it unto, we make a conjecture from this concerning the leading Disposition of the Person's Mind.
As to those Fancys which prevail in certain Countrys toward large Lips, little Noses, narrow Eyes; unless we knew from themselves under what Idea such Features are admir'd, whether as naturally beautiful in Form, or Proportion to the rest of the Face; or as presum'd Indications of some moral Qualitys we may more probably conclude that it is the latter; since this is so much the Ground of Approbation, or Aversion towards Faces among our selves. And as to those Features which we count naturally disagreeable as to Form, we know the Aversion on this account is so weak, that moral Qualitys shall procure a liking, even to the Face, in Persons who are sensible of the Irregularity, or want of that Regularity which is common in others. With us, certain Features are imagin'd to denote Dulness; as hollow Eyes, large Lips; a Colour of Hair, Wantonness: and may we not conclude the like Association of Ideas, perhaps in both Cases without Foundation in Nature, to be the Ground of those Approbations which appear unaccountable to us?
In the same manner, when there is nothing grosly disproportion'd in any Face, what is it we dispraise? It is Pride, Haughtiness, Sourness, Ill-nature, Discontent, Folly, Levity, Wantonness which some Countenances discover in the manner above hinted at? And these Airs, when brought by Custom upon the most regular Set of Features, have often made them very disagreeable; as the contrary Airs have given the strongest Charms to Countenances, which were far from Perfection in external Beauty.
One cannot but observe the Judgment of Homer, in his Character of Helen. Had he ever so much rais'd our Idea of her external Beauty, it would have been ridiculous to have engag'd his Countrymen in a War for such a Helen as Virgil has drawn her. He therefore still retains something amiable in a moral Sense, amidst all her Weakness, and often suggests to his Reader,
—Eλvns β δpμβμaτá τɛσovaXás τɛ1
as the Spring of his Countrymens Indignation and Revenge.
This Consideratmn may shew us one Reason, among many others, for Mens different Fancys, or Relishes of Beauty. The Mind of Man, however generally dispos'd to esteem Benevolenee and Virtue, yet by more particular Kttention to some kinds of it than others, may gain a stronger Admiration of some moral Dispositions than others. Military Men, may admire Courage more than other Virtues; Persons of smaller Courage, may admire Sweetness of Temper Men of Thought and Reflection, who have more extensive Views, will admire the like Qualitys in others; Men of keen Passions, expect equal Returns of all the kind Affections, and are wonderfully charm'd by Compliance: the Proud, may like those of higher Spirit, as more suitable to their Dignity; tho Pride, join'd with Reflection and good Sense, will recommend to them Humility in the Person belov'd. Now as the various Tempers of Men make various Tempers of others agreeable to them, so they must differ in their Relishes of Beauty, according as it denotes the several Qualitys most agreeable to themselves.
This may also shew us, how in virtuous Love there may be the greatest Beauty, without the least Charm to engage a Rival. Love it self gives a Beauty to the Lover, in the Eyes of the Person belov'd, which no other Mortal is much affected with. And this perhaps is the strongest Charm possible, and that which will have the greatest Power, where there is not some very great Counter-ballance from worldly Interest, Vice, or gross Deformity.
163 IV. This same Consideration may be extended to the whole Air and Motion of any Person. Every thing we count agreeable, some way denotes Chearfulness, Ease, a Condescension and Readiness to oblige, a Love of Company, with a Freedom and Boldness which always accompanys an honest, undesigning Heart. On the contrary, what is shocking in Air, or Motion, is Roughness, Ill-nature, a Disregard to others, or a foolish Shame-facedness, which evidences a Person to be unexperienc'd in Society, or Offices of Humanity.
With relation to these Airs, Motions, Gestures, we may observe, that considering the different Ceremonys, and Modes of shewing respect, which are practis'd in different Nations, we may indeed probably conclude that there is no natural Connexion between any of these Gestures, or Motions, and the Affections of Mind which they are by Custom made to express. But when Custom has made any of them pass for Expressions of such Affections, by a constant Association of Ideas, some shall become agreeable and lovely, and others extremely offensive, altho they were both, in their own Nature, perfectly indifferent.
164 V. Here we may remark the manner in which Nature leads Mankind to the Continuance of their Race, and by its strongest Power engages them to what occasions the greatest Toil and Anxiety of Life and yet supports them under it with an inexpressible delight. We might have been excited to the Propagation of our Species, by such an uneasy Sensation as would have effectually determin'd us to it, without any great prospect of Happiness; as we see Hunger and Thirst determine us to preserve our Bodys, tho few look upon eating and drinking as any considerable Happiness. The Sexes might have been engag'd to Concurrence, as we imagine the Brutes are, by Desire only, or by a Love of sensual Pleasure. But how dull and insipid had Life been, were there no more in Marriage? Who would have had Resolution enough to bear all the Cares of a Family, and Education of Children? Or who, from the general Motive of Benevolence alone, would have chosen to subject himself to natural Affection toward an Offspring, when he could so easily foresee what Troubles it might occasion?
This Inclination therefore of the Sexes, is founded on something stronger, and more efficacious and joyful, than the Sollicitations of Uneasiness, or the bare desire of sensible Pleasure. Beauty gives a favourable Presumption of good moral Dispositions, and Acquaintance confirms this into a real Love of Esteem, or begets it, where there is little Beauty. This raises an expectation of the greatest moral Pleasures along with the sensible, and a thousand tender Sentiments of Humanity and Generosity; and makes us impatientfor a Society which we imagine big with unspeakable moral Pleasures: where nothing is indifferent, and every trifling Service, being an Evidence of this strong Love of Esteem, is mutually receiv'd with the Rapture and Gratitude of the greatest Benefit, and of the most substantial Obligation. And where Prudence and Good-nature influence both sides, this Society may answer all their Expectations.
165 Nay, let us examine those of looser Conduct with relation to the fair Sex, and we shall find, that Love of sensible Pleasure is not the chief Motive of Debauchery, or false Gallantry. Were it so, the meanest Prostitutes would please as much as any. But we know sufficiently, that Men are fond of Good-nature, Faith, Pleasantry of Temper, Wit, and many other moral Qualitys, even in a Mistress. And this may furnish us with a Reason for what appears pretty unaccountable, viz. 'That Chastity it self has a powerful Charm in the Eyes of the Dissolute, even when they are attempting to destroy it.'
This powerful Determination even to a limited Benevolence, and other moral Sentiments, is observ'd to give a strong biass to our Minds toward a universal Goodness, Tenderness, Humanity, Generosity, and Contempt of private Good in our whole Conduct; bcsldcs the obvious Improvement it occasions in our external Deportment, and in our relish of Beauty, Order, and Harmony. As soon as a Heart, before hard and obdurate, is soften'd in this Flame, wc shall observe, arising along with it, a Love of Poetry, Musick, the Beauty of Nature in rural Scenes, a Contempt of other selfish Pleasures of the external Senses, a neat Drcss, a humane Deportment, a Delight in and Emulation of every thing which is gallant, generous and friendly.
In the same manner we are determin'd to common Friendships and Acquaintances, not by the sullen Apprehensions of our Necessitys, or Prospects of Interest; but by an incredible variety of little agreeable, engaging Evidences of Love, Goodnature, and other morally amiable Qualitys in those we converse with. And among the rest, none of the least considerable is an Inclination to Chearfulness, a Delight to raise Mirth in others, which procures a secret Approbation and Gratitude toward the Person who puts us in such an agreeable, innocent, good-natur'd, and easy state of Mind, as we are conscious of while we enjoy pleasant Conversation, enliven'd by moderate Laughter.
A Deduction Of Some Complex Moral Ideas, Viz. Of Obligation, And Right, Perfect, Imperfect, And External, Alienable, And Unalienable, From This Moral Sense.
166 I. To conclude this Subject, we may, from what has been said, see the true Original of moral Ideas, viz. This moral Sense of Excellence in every Appearance, or Evidence of Benevolence. It remains to be explain'd, how we acquire more particular Ideas of Virtue and Vice, abstracting from any Law, Human, or Divine.
If any one ask, Can we have any Sense of Obligation, abstracting from the Laws of a Superior? We must answer according to the various Senses of the word Obligation. If by Obligation we understand a Determination, without regard to our own Interest, to approve Actions, and to perform them; which Determination shall also make us displeas'd with our selves, and uneasy upon having acted contrary to it; in this meaning of the word Obligation, there is naturally an Obligation upon all Men to Benevolence; and they are still under its Influence, even when by false, or partial Opinions of the natural Tendency of their Actions, this moral Sense leads them to Evil; unless by long inveterate Habits it be exceedingly weaken'd. For it scarce seems possible wholly to extinguish it. Or, which is to the same purpose, this internal Sense, and Instinct toward Benevolence, will either influence our Actions, or else make us very uneasy and dissatisfy'd; and we shall be conscious that we are in a base unhappy State, even without considering any Law whatsoever, or any external Advantages lost, or Disadvantages impending from its Sanctions. And further, there are still such Indications given us of what is in the whole benevolent, and what not; as may probably discover to us the true Tendency of every Action, and let us see, some time or other, the evil Tendency of what upon a partial View appear'd benevolent: or if we have no Friends so faithful as to admonish us, the Persons injur'd will not fall to upbraid us. So that no Mortal can secure to himself a perpetual Serenity, Satisfaction, and Self-approbation, but by a serious Inquiry into the Tendency of his Actions, and a perpetual Study of universal Good, according to the justest Notions of it.
167 But if by Obligation, we understand a Motive from Self-interest, sufficient to determine all those who duly consider it, and pursue their own Advantage wisely, to a certain Course of Actions; we may have a Sense of such an Obligation, by reflecting on this Determination of our Nature to approve Virtue, to be pleas'd and happy when we reflect upon our having done virtuous Actions, and to be uneasy when we are conscious of having acted otherwise and also by considering how much superior we esteem the Happiness of Virtue to any other Enjoyment1 We may likewise have a Sense of this sort of Obligation, by considering those Reasons which prove a constant Course of benevolent and social Actions, to be the most probable means of promoting the natural Good of every Individual; as Cumberland and Puffendorf have prov'd: And all this without Relation to a Law.
But further, if our moral Sense be suppos'd exceedingly weaken'd, and the selfish Passions grown strong, either thro some general Corruption of Nature, or inveterate Habits; if our Understanding be weak, and we be often in danger of being hurry'd by our Passions into precipitate and rash Judgments, that malicious Actions shall promote our Advantage more than Beneficence; in such a Case, if it be inquir'd what is necessary to engage Men to beneficent Actions, or induce a steady Sense of an Obligation to act for the publick Good then, no doubt, 'A Law with Sanctions, g_ven by a superior Being, of sufficient Power to make us happy or miserable, must be necessary to counter-ballance those apparent Motives to Interest, to calm our Passions, and give room for the recovery of our moral Sense, or at least for a just View of our Interest.'
168 II. Now the principal Business of the moral Philosopher is to shew, from solid Reasons, 'That universal Benevolence tends to the Happiness of the Benevolent, either from the Pleasures of Reflection, Honour, natural Tendency to engage the good Offices of Men, upon whose Aid we must depend for our Happiness in this World; or from the Sanctions of divine Laws discover'd to us by the Constitution of the Universe 'that so no apparent Views of Interest may counteract this natural Inchnation: but not to attempt proving, 'That Prospects of our own Advantage of any kind, can raise in us real Love to others.' Let the Obstacles from Self-love be only femur'd, and Nature it self will recline us to Benevolence. Let the Misery of excessive Selfishness, and all its Passions, be but once explain'd, that so Self-love may cease to counteract our natural Propensity to Benevolence, and when this noble Disposition gets loose from these Bonds of Ignorance, and false Views of Interest, it shall be assisted even by Self-love, and grow strong enough to make a noble virtuous Character. Then he is to enquire, by Reflection upon human Affairs, what Course of Action does most effectually promote the universal Good, what universal Rules or Maxims are to be observ'd, and in what Circumstances the Reason of them alters, so as to admit Exceptions; that so our good Inclinations may be directed by Reason, and a just Knowledge of the Interests of Mankind. But Virtue it self, or good Dispositions of Mind, are not directly taught, or produc'd by Instruction they must be originally implanted in our Nature, by its great Author and afterwards strengthen'd and confirm'd by our own Cultivation.
189 III. We are often told, 'That there is no need of supposing such a Sense of Morahty given to Men, since Reflection, and Instruction would recommend the same Actions from Arguments of Self-Interest, and engage us, from the acknowledg'd Principle of Self-love, to the Practice of them, without this unintelligible Determination to Ben. evolence, or the occult Quality of a moral Sense.'
It is perhaps true, that Reflection and Reason might lead us to approve the same Actions as advantageous. But would not the same Reflection and Reason hkewise, generally recommend the same Meats to us which our Taste represents as pleasant? And shall we thence conclude that we have no Sense of Tasting? Or that such a Sense is useless? No: The use is plain in both Cases. Notwithstanding the mighty Reason we boast of abovc other Ammals, its Processes are too slow, too full of doubt and hesitation, to serve us in every Exigency, either for our own Preservation, wtthout the external Senses, or to direct our Actions for the Good of the Whole, without this moral Sense. Nor could we be so strongly determin'd at all times to what is most conducive to either of these Ends, without these expeditious Monitors, and importunate Sollicitors; nor so nobly rewarded, when we act vigorously in pursuit of these Ends, by the calm dull Reflections of Self-Interest, as by those delightful Sensations.
170 This natural Determination to approve and admire, or hate and dislike Actions, is no doubt an occult Quality. But is it any way more mysterious that the Idea of an Action should raise Esteem, or Contempt, than that the motion, or tearing of Flesh should give Pleasure, or Pain; or the Act of Volition should move Flesh and Bones? In the latter Case, we have got the Brain, and elastic Fibres, and animal Spirits, and elastic Fluids, like the Indian's Elephant, and Tortoise, to bear the Burden of the Difficulty: but go one step further, and you find the whole as difficult as at first, and equally a Mystery with this Determination to love and approve, or hate and despise Actions and Agents, without any Views of Interest, as they appear benevolent, or the contrary.
171 When they offer it as a Presumption that there can be no such Sense, antecedent to all Prospect of Interest, 'That these Actions for the most part are really advantageous, one way or other, to the Actor, the Approver, or Mankind in general, by whose Happiness our own State may be some way made better;' may we not ask, supposing the Deity intended to impress such a Sense of something amiable in Actions, (which is no impossible Supposition) what sort of Actions would a good God determine us to approve? Must we deny the possibility of such a Determination, if it did not lead us to admire Actions of no Advantage to Mankind, or to love Agents for their being eminent Triflers? If then the Actions which a wife and good God must determine us to approve, if he give us any such Sense at all, must be Actions useful to the Publick, this Advantage can never be a Reason against the Sense it self. After the same manner, we should deny all Revelation which taught us good Sense, Humanity, Justice, and a rational Worship, because Reason and Interest confirm and recommend such Principles, and Services; and should greedily embrace every Contradiction, Foppery, and Pageantry, as a truly divine Institution, without any thing humane, or useful to Mankind.
172 IV. The Writers upon opposite Schemes, who deduce all Ideas of Good and Evil from the private Advantage of the Actor, or from Relation to a Law and its Sanctions, either known from Reason, or Revelation, are perpetually recurring to this moral Sense which they deny; not only in calling the Laws of the Deity just and good, and alledgmg Justice and Right in the Deity to govern us; but by using a set of Words which import something different from what they will allow to be their only meaning. Obligation, with them, is only such a Constitution, either of Nature, or some governing Power, as makes it advantageous for the Agent to act in a certain manner. Let this Defimtmn be substituted, wherever we meet with the words, ought, should, must, in a moral Sense, and many of their Sentences would seem very strange; as that the Deity must act rationally, must not, or ought not to pumsh the Innocent, must make the state of the Virtuous better than that of the Winked, must observe Promises substltuting the Defimtion of the Words, must, ought, should, would make these Sentences either ridiculous, or very dlsputable.
178 V. But that our first Ideas of moral Good depend not on Laws, may plainly appear from our constant Inquirys into the Justice of Laws themselves; and that not only of human Laws, but of the divine. What else can be the meaning of that universal Opinion, 'That the Laws of God are just, and holy, and good?' Human Laws may be call'd good, because of their Conformity to the Divine. But to calf the Laws of the supreme Deity good, or holy, or just, if all Goodness, Holiness, and Justice be constituted by Laws, or the Will of a Superior any way reveal'd, must be an insignificant Tautology, amounting to no more than this, 'That God wills what he wills.'
It must then first be suppos'd, that there is something in Actions which is apprehended absolutely good; and this is Benevolence, or a Tendency to the publick natural Happiness of rational Agents; and that our moral Sense perceives this Excellence: and then we call the Laws of the Deity good, when we imagine that they are contriv'd to promote the publick Good in the most effectual and impartial manner. And the Deity is call'd good, in a moral Sense, when we apprehend that his whole Providence tends to the universal Happiness of his Creatures; whence we conclude his Benevolence, and Delight in their Happiness.
Some tell us, 'That the Goodness of the divine Laws, consists in their Conformity to some essential Rectitude of his Nature.' But they must excuse us from assenting to this, till they make us understand the meaning of this Metaphor essential Rectitude, and till we dtscern whether any thing more is meant by it than a perfectly wise, uniform, impartial Benevolence.
174 Hence we may see the Difference between Constraint, and Obligation. There is indeed no difference between Constraint, and the second Sense of the word Obligation, viz. a Constitution which makes an Action ehgible from Self-Interest, if we only mean external Interest, distinct from the delightful Consciousness which arises from the moral Sense. The Reader need scarcely be told, that by Constraint, we do not understand an external Force moving our Limbs without our Consent, for in that Case we are not Agents at all; but that Constraint which arises from the threatning and presenting some Evil, in order to make us act in a certain manner. And yet there seems a universally acknowledg'd Difference between even this sort of Constraint, and Obligation. We never say we are oblig'd to do an Action which we count base, but we may be constram'd to it; we never say that the divine Laws, by their Sanctions, constrain us, but oblige us; nor do we call Obedience to the Deity Constraint, unless by a Metaphor, the many own they are influenc'd by fear of Punishments. And yet supposing an almighty evil Being should require, under grievous Fenaltys, Treachery, Cruelty, Ingratitude, we would call this Constraint. The difference is plainly this. When any Sanctions co-operate with our moral Sense, in exciting us to Actions which we count morally good, we say we are oblig'd; but when Sanctions of Rewards or Punishments oppose our moral Sense, then we say we are brib'd or constrain'd. In the former Case we call the Lawgiver good, as designing the publick Happiness; in the latter we call him evil, or unjust, for the suppos'd contrary Intention. But were all our Ideas of moral Good or Evil, deriv'd solely from Opinions of private Advantage or Loss in Actions, I see no possible difference which could be made in the meaning of these words.
175 VI. From this Sense too we derive our Ideas of Rights. Whenever it appears to us, that a Faculty of doing, demanding, or possessing any thing, universally allow'd in certain Circumstances, would in the whole tend to the general Good, we say that any Person in such Circumstances, has a Right to do, possess, or demand that Thing. And according as this Tendency to the publick Good is greater or less, the Right is greater or less.
The Rights call'd perfect, are of such necessity to the publick Good, that the universal Violation of them would make human Life intolerable; and it actually makes those miserable, whose Rights are thus violated. On the contrary, to fulfil these Rights in every Instance, tends to the publick Good, either directly, or by promoting the innocent Advantage of a Part. Hence it plainly follows, 'That to allow a violent Defence, or Prosecution of such Rights, before Civil Government be constituted, cannot in any particular Case be more detrimental to the Publick, than the Violation of them with Impunity.' And as to the general Consequences, the universal Use of Force in a State of Nature, in pursuance of perfect Rights, seems exceedingly advantageous to the Whole, by making every one dread any Attempts against the perfect Rights of others.
This is the moral Effect which attends proper Injury, or a Violation of the perfect Rights of others, viz. A Right to War, and all Violence which is necessary to oblige the Injurious to repair the Damage, and give Security against such Offences for the future. This is the sole Foundation of the Rights of punishing Criminals, and of violent Prosecutions of our Rights, in a State of Nature. And these Rights, belonging originally to the Persons injur'd, or their voluntary, or invited Assistants, according to the Judgment of indifferent Arbitrators, in a State of Nature, being by the Consent of the Persons injur'd, transferr'd to the Magistrate in a Civil State, are the true Foundation of his Right of Punishment.
Instances of perfect Rights are those to our Lives; to the Fruits of our Labours to demand Performance of Contracts upon valuable Considerations, from Men capable of performing them; to direct our own Actions either for publick, or innocent private Good, before we have submitted them to the Direction of others in any measure; and many others of like nature.
176 Imperfect Rights are such as, when universally violated, would not necessarily make Men miserable. These Rights tend to the improvement and increase of positive Good in any Society, but are not absolutely necessary to prevent universal Misery. The Violation of them, only disappoints Men of the Happiness expected from the Humanity or Gratitude of others; but does not deprive Men of any Good which they had before. From this Description it appears, 'That a violent Prosecution of such Rights, would generally occasion greater Evil than the Violation of them.' Besides, the allowing of Force in such Cases, would deprive Men of the greatest Pleasure in Actions of Kindness, Humanity, Gratitude; which would cease to appear amiable, when Men could be constrain'd to perform them. Instances of imperfect Rights are those which the Poor have to the Charity of the Wealthy; which all Men have to Offices of no trouble or expence to the Performer; which Benefactors have to returns of Gratitude, and such like.
The Violation of imperfect Rights, only argues a Man to have such weak Benevolence, as not to study advancing the positive Good of others, when in the least opposite to his own: but the Violation of perfect Rights, argues the injurious Person to be positively evil or cruel; or at least so immoderately selfish, as to be indifferent about the positive Misery and Ruin of others, when he imagines he can find his Interest in it. In violating the former, we shew a weak Desire of publick Happiness, which every small view of private Interest over-ballances; but in violating the latter, we shew * m our selves so entirely negligent of the Misery of others, that Views of increasing our own Good, overcome all our Compassion toward their Sufferings. Now as the absence of Good, is more easily born than the presence of Misery; so our good Wishes toward the positive Good of others, are weaker than our Compassion toward their Misery. He then who violates imperfect Rights, shews that his Self-love overcomes only the Desire of positive Good to others; but he who violates perfect Rights, betrays such a selfish Desire of advancing his own positive Good, as overcomes all Compassion toward the Misery of others.
177 Beside these two sorts of Rights, there is a third call'd External; as when the doing, possessing, or demanding of any thing is really detrimental to the Publick in any particular Instance, as being contrary to the imperfect Right of another; but yet the universally denying Men this Faculty of doing, possessing, or demanding that Thing, or of using Force in pursuance of it, would do more mischief than all the Evils to be fear'd from the Use of this Faculty. And hence it appears, 'That there can be no Right to use Force in opposition even to external Rights, since it tends to the universal Good to allow Force in pursuance of them.'
Civil Societys substitute Actions in Law, instead of the Force allow'd in the State of Nature.
Instances of external Rights are these; that of a wealthy Miser to recal his Loan from the most industrious poor Tradesman at any time; that of demanding the Performance of a Covenant too burdensom on one side; the Right of a wealthy Heir to refuse Payment of any Debts which were contracted by him under Age, without Fraud in the Lender; the Right of taking advantage of a positive Law, contrary to what was Equity antecedent to that Law; as when a register'd Deed takes place of one not register'd, altho prior to it, and known to be so before the second Contract.
178 Now whereas no Action, Demand, or Possession, can at once be either necessary to the publick Good, or conducive to it, and at the same time its contrary be either necessary or conducive to the same end; it follows, 'That there can be no Opposition of perfect Rights among themselves, of imperfect among themselves, or between perfect and imperfect Rights.' But it may often tend to the publick Good, to allow a Right of doing, possessing, or demanding, and of using Force in pursuance of it, while perhaps it would have been more humane and kind in any Person to have acted otherwise, and not have claim'd his Right. But yet a violent Opposition to these Rights, would have been vastly more pernicious than all the Inhumanity in the use of them. And therefore, tho external Rights cannot be opposite among themselves; yet they may be opposite to imperfect Rights; but imperfect Rights, the violated, give no Right to Force. Hence it appears, 'That there can never be a Right to Force on both Sides, or a just War on both Sides at the same time.'
179 VII. There is another important Difference of Rights, according as they are Alienable, or Unalienable. To determine what Rights are alienable, and what not, we must take these two Marks:
Ist If the Alienation be within our natural Po_er, so that it be possible for us in Fact to transfer our Right; and if it he so, then,
2dly. It must appear, that to transfer such Rights may serve some valuable Purpose.
By the first Mark it appears, 'That the Right of private Judgment, or of our inward Sentiments, is unalienable 'since we cannot command ourselves to think what either we our selves, or any other Person pleases. So are also our internal Affections, which necessarily arise according to our Opinions of their Objects. By the second Mark it appears, 'That our Right of serving God, in the manner which we think acceptable, is not alienable' because it can never serve any valuable purpose, to make Men worship him in a way which seems to M 2 them displeasing to him. The same way, a direct Right over our Lives or Limbs, is not alienable to any Person; so that he might at Pleasure put us to death, or maim us. We have indeed a Right to hazard our Lives in any good Action which is of importance to the Publick; and it may often serve a most valuable end, to subject the direction of such perilous Actions to the Prudence of others in pursuing a publick Good; as Soldiers do to their General, or to a Council of War: and so far this Right is alienable. These may serve as Instances to shew the Use of the two Marks of alienable Rights, which must both concur to make them so, and will explain the manner of applying them in other Cases.
180 VIII. That we may see the Foundation of some of the more important Rights of Mankind, let us observe, that probably nine Tenths, at least, of the things which are useful to Mankind, are owing to their Labour and Industry; and consequently, when once Men become so numerous, that the natural Product of the Earth is not sufficient for their Support, or Ease, or innocent Pleasure; a necessity arises, for the support of the increasing System, that such a Tenour of Conduct be observ'd, as shall most effectually promote Industry; and that Men abstain from all Actions which would have the contrary effect. It is well known, that general Benevolence alone, is not a Motive strong enough to Industry, to bear Labour and Toil, and many other Difficultys which we are averse to from Self-love. For the strengthning therefore our Motives to Industry, we have the strongest Attractions of Blood, of Friendship, of Gratitude, and the additional Motives of Honour, and even of external Interest. Self-love is really as necessary to the Good of the Whole, as Benevolence; as that Attraction which causes the Cohesion of the Parts, is as necessary to the regular State of the Whole, as Gravitation. Without these additional Motives, Self-love would generally oppose the Motions of Benevolence, and concur with Malice, or influence us to the same Actions which Malice would. 'That Tenour of Action then, which would take away the stronger Ties of Benevolence, or the additional Motives of Honour and Advantage, from our Minds, and so hinder us from pursuing industriously that Course which really increases the Good of the Whole, is evil; and we are oblig'd to shun it.'
First then, the depriving any Person of the Fruits of his own innocent Labour, takes away all Motives to Industry from Self-love, or the nearer Ties; and leaves us no other Motive than general Benevolence: nay, it exposes the Industrious as a constant Prey to the Slothful, and sets Self-love against Industry. This is the Ground of our Right of Dominion and Property in the Fruits of our Labours; without which Right, we could scarce hope for any Industry, or any thing beyond the Product of uncultivated Nature. Industry will be confin'd to our present Necessitys, and cease when they are provided for; at least it will only continue from the weak Motive of general Benevolence, if we are not allow'd to store up beyond present Necessity, and to dispose of what is above our Necessitys, either in Barter for other kinds of Necessarys, or for the Service of our Friends or Familys. And hence appears the Right which Men have to lay up for the future, the Goods which will not be spoild by it; of alienating them in Trade of Donation to Friends, Children, Relations: otherwise we deprive Industry of all the Motives of Self-love, Friendship, Gratitude, and natural Affection. The same Foundation there is for the Right of Disposition by Testament. The Presumption of this Disposition, is the Ground of the Right of Succession to the Intestate.
The external Right of the Miser to his useless Hoards, is founded also on this, that allowing Persons by Violence, or without Consent of the Acquirer, to take the Use of his Acquisitions, would discourage Industry, and take away all the Pleasures of Generosity, Honour, Charity, which cease when Men can be forc'd to these Actions. Besides, there is no determining in many Cases, who is a Miser, and who is not. Marriage must be so constituted as to ascertain the Offspring; otherwise we take away from the Males one of the strongest Motives to publick Good, viz. natural Affection; and discourage Industry, as has been shewn above.
The Labour of each Man cannot furnish him with all Necessarys, tho it may furnish him with a needless Plenty of one sort: Hence the Right of Commerce, and ahenating our Goods; and also the Rights from Contracts and Promises, clther to the Goods acquir'd by others, or to their Labours.
The great Advantages which accrue to Mankind from unprejudic'd Arbitrators, impower'd to decide the Controversys which ordinarily arise, thro the partiality of Self-love, among Neighbours; as also from prudent Directors, who should not only instruct the Multitude in the best Methods of promoting the publick Good, and of defending themselves against mutual or foreign Injurys but also be arm'd with Force sufficient to make their Decrees or Orders effectual at home, and the Society formidable abroad: these Advantages, I say, sufficiently shew the Right Men have to constitute Civil Government, and to subject their alienable Rights to the Disposal of their Governours, under such Limitations as their Prudence suggests. And as far as the People have subjected their Rights, so far their Governours have an external Right at least, to dispose of them, as their Prudence shall direct, for attaining the Ends of their Institution and no further.
181 IX. These Instances may shew how our moral Sense, by a little Reflection upon the tendencys of Actions, may adjust the Rights of Mankind. Let us now apply the general Canon laid down above1 , for comparing the Degrees of Virtue and Vice in Actions, in a few Corollarys besides that one already deduc'd 2
189 X. From Art. vii. it follows, 'That all human Power, or Authority, must consist in a Right transferr'd to any Person or Council, to dispose of the alienable Rights of others, and that consequently, there can be no Government so absolute, as to have even an external Right to do or command every thing.' For wherever any Invasion is made upon unalienable Rights, there must arise either a perfect, or external Right to Resistance. The only Restraints of a moral Kind upon Subjects in such cases, are, when they foresee that, thro their want of Force, they shall probably by Resistance occasion greater Evils to the Publick, than those they attempt to remove; or when they find that Governours, in the main very, useful to the Publick, have by some unadvised Passion, done an Injury too small to overballance the Advantages of their Administration, or the Evils which Resistance would an all likelihood occasion; especially when the Injury is of a private Nature, and not likely to be made a Precedent to the ruin of others. Unalienable Rights are essential Lunltations in all Governments.
But by absolute Government, either in Prince, or Council, or in both jointly, we understand a Right to dispose of the natural Force, and Goods of a whole People, as far as they are naturally alienable, according to the Prudence of the Prince, Council, or of both jointly, for the publick Good of the State, or whole People; without any Reservation as to the Quantity of the Goods, manner of Levying, or the proportion of the Labours of the Subject, which they shall demand. But in all States this tacit Trust is presuppos'd,' that the Power conferr'd shall be' employ'd according to the best Judgment of the Rulers for the publick Good.' So that whenever the Governours openly profess a Design of destroying the State, or act in such a manner as will necessarily do it; the essential Trust, suppos'd in all conveyance of Civil Power, is violated, and the Grant thereby made void.
A Prince, or Council, or both jointly, may be variously Limited either when the Consent of the one may be necessary to the validity of the Acts of the other; or when, in the very Constitution of this supreme Power, certain Affairs are expressly exempted from the Jurisdiction of the Prince, or Council, or both jointly: as when several independent States uniting, form a general Council, from whose Cognizance they expressly reserve certain Privileges, in the very Formation of this Council; or when in the very Constitution of any State, a certain Method of Election of the Person of the Prince, or of the Members of the supreme Council is determin'd, and the Intention of their Assembling dcelar'd. In all such cases, it is not in the Power of such Prince, Council, or both jointly, to alter the very Form of Government, or to take away that Right which the People have to be govcrn'd in such a manner, by a Prince, or Council thus elected, without the universal Consent of the very People who have subjectcd themselves to this Form of Govcrnmcnt. So that there may be a very regular State, where there is no universal absolute Power, lodg'd either in one Person, or Council, or in any other Assembly beside that of the whole People associated into that State. To say, that upon a Change attempted in the very Form of the Government, by the supreme Power, the People have no Remedy according to the Constitutlon itself, will not prove that the supreme Power has such a Right; unless we confound all Ideas of Right with those of external Force. The only Remedy indeed in that Case,. is an universal Insurrection against such perfidious Trustees.
Despotick Power, is that which Persons injur'd may acquire over those Criminals, whose Lives, consistently with the publick Safety, they may prolong, that by their Labours they may repair the Damages they have done; or over those who stand oblig'd to a greater Value, than all their Goods and Labours can possibly amount to. This Power itself, is limited to the Goods and Labours only of the Criminals or Debtors; and includes no Right to Tortures, Prostitution, or any Rights of the Governed which are naturally Unalienable; or to any thing which is not of some Moment toward Repair of Damage, Payment of Debt, or Security against future Offences. The Characteristick of despotick Power, is this, 'that it is solely intended for the good of the Governours, without any tacit Trust of consulting the good of the Governed.' Despotick Government, in this Sense, is directly inconsistent with the Notion of Civil Government. 188 From the Idea of Right, as above explain'd, we must necessarily conclude, 'that there can be no Right, or Limitation of Right, inconsistent with, or opposite to the greatest publick Good.' And therefore in Cases of extreme Necessity, when the State cannot otherwise be preserv'd from Ruin, it must certainly be Just and Good in limited Governours, or in any other Persons who can do it, to use the Force of the State for its own preservation, beyond the Limits fix'd by the Constitution, in some transitory Acts, which are not to he made Precedents. And on the other hand, when an equal Necessity to avoid Ruin requires it, the Subjects may justly resume the Powers ordinarily lodg'd in their Governours, or may counteract them. This Privilege of flagrant Necessity, we all allow in defence of the most perfect private Rights: And if publick Rights are of more extensive Importance, so are also publick Necessitys. These Necessities must be very grievous and flagrant, otherwise they can never over-balance the Evils of violating a tolerable Constitution, by an arbitrary act of Power, on the one hand; or by an Insurrection, or Civil War, on the other. No Person, or State can be happy, where they do not think their important Rights are secur'd from the Cruelty, Avarice, Ambition, or Caprice of their Governours. Nor can any Magistracy be safe, or effectual for the ends of its Institution, where there are frequent Terrors of Insurrections. Whatever temporary Acts therefore may be allow'd in extraordinary Cases; whatever may be lawful in the transitory Act of a bold Legislator, who without previous Consent should rescue a slavish Nation, and place their Affairs so in the Hands of a Person, or Council, elected, or limited by themselves, that they should soon have Confidence in their own Safety, and in the Wisdom of the Administration; yet, as to the fixed State which should ordinarily obtain in all Community, since no Assumer of Government, can so demonstrate his superior Wisdom or Goodness to the satisfaction and security of the Governed, as is necessary to their Happiness; this must follow, That except when Men, for their own Interest, or out of publick Love, have by Consent subjected their Actions, or their Goods within certain Limits to the Disposal of others; no Mortal can have a Right from his superior Wisdom, or Goodness, or any other Quality, to give Laws to others without their Consent, express or tacit; or to dispose of the Fruits of their Labours, or of any other Right whatsoever.' And therefore superior Wisdom, or Goodness, gives no Right to Men to govern others.
184 But then with relation to the Deity, suppos'd omniscient and benevolent, and secure from Indigence, the ordinary Cause of Injurys toward others; it must be amiable in such a Being, to assume the Government of weak, inconstant Creatures, often misled by Selfishness; and to give them Laws. To these Laws every Mortal should submit from publick Love, as being contriv'd for the Good of the Whole, and for the greatest private Good consistent with it; and every one may be sure, that he shall be better directed how to attain these Ends by the Divine Laws, than by his own greatest Prudence and Circumspection. Hence we imagine, 'That a good and wise God must have a perfect Right to govern the Universe; and that all Mortals are oblig'd to universal Obedience.'
The Justice of the Deity is only a Conception of his universal impartial Benevolence, as it shall influence him, if he gives any Laws, to attemper them to the universal Good, and inforce them with the most effectual Sanctions of Rewards and Punishments.
185 XI. Some imagine that the Property the Creator has in all his Works, must be the true Foundation of his Right to govern. Among Men indeed, we find it necessary for the publick Good, that none should arbitrarily dispose of the Goods acquir'd by the Labour of another, which we call his Property; and hence we imagine that Creation is the only Foundation of God's Dominion. But if the Reason1 of establishing the Rights of Property does not hold against a perfectly wise and benevolent Being, I see no Reason why Property should be necessary to his Dominion. Now the Reason does not hold: For an infinitely wise and good Being, could never employ his assumed Authority to counteract the universal Good. The tie of Gratitude is stronger indeed than bare Benevolence; and therefore supposing two equally wise and good Beings, the one our Creator, and the other not, we should think our selves more obhg'd to obey our Creator. But supposing our Creator malicious, and a good Being condescending to rescue us, or govern us better, with sufficient Power to accomplish his kind Intentions; his Right to govern would be perfectly good. But this is rather matter of curious Speculation than Use; since both Titles of Benevolence and Property concur in the one only true Deity, as far as we can know, join'd with Infinite Wisdom and Power.
180 XII. If it be here enquir'd 'Could not the Deity have given us a different or contrary determination of Mind, viz. to approve Actions upon another Foundation than Benevolence?' It is certain, there is nothing in this surpassing the natural Power of the Deity. But as in the first Treatise, we resolv'd the Constitution of our present Sense of Beauty into the divine Goodness, so with much more obvious Reason may we ascribe the present Constitution of our moral Sense to his Goodness. For if the Deity be really benevolent, or delights in the Happiness of others, he could not rationally act otherwise, or give us a moral Sense upon another Foundation, without counteracting his own benevolent Intentions. For, even upon the Supposition of a contrary Sense, every rational Being must still have been sollicitous in some degree about his own external Happiness: Reflection on the Circumstances of Mankind in this World would have suggested, that universal Benevolence and a social Temper, or a certain Course of external Actions, would most effectually promote the external Good of every one, according to the Reasonings of Cumberland and Puffendorf while at the same time this perverted Sense of Morality would have made us uneasy in such a Course, and inclin'd us to the quite contrary, viz. Barbarity, Cruelty, and Fraud; and universal War, according to Mr. Hobbs, would really have been our natural State; so that in every Action we must have been distracted by two contrary Principles, and perpetually miserable, and dissatisfy'd when we follow'd the Directions of either.
187 XIII. It has often been taken for granted in these Papers, 'That the Deity is morally- good, to the Reasoning is not at all built uporf this Sulpposition: If we enquire into the Reason of the 'great Agreement–of Mankind in this Opinion, we shall perhaps find no demonstrative Arguments & priori, from the Idea. of an Independent Being, to prove his Goodness. Bitt there is abundant Probability,-'deduc'd from the whole Fra'me of Nature, which, seems,. as far as we know, plainly contriv'd for the. Good' of: the. 'Whole; and the casual Evils seem the necessary Concomitants of some Mechanism design'd for vastly prepollent Good. Nay, this very moral Sense, implanted in rational Agents, to delight in, and admire whatever Actions flow from a Study of the Good of others, is one of the strongest Evidences of Goodness in the Author of Nature.
But these Reflections are no way so universal as the Opinion, nor are they often inculcated by any one. What then more probably leads Mankind into that Opinion, is this. The obvious 3Erame of the World gives us Ideas of boundless Wisdom and Power in its Author. Such a Being we cannot conceive indigent, and must conclude happy, and in the best State possible, since he can still gratify himself The best State of rational Agents, and their greatest and most worthy Happiness, we are necessarily led to imagine must consist in universal efficacious Benevolence: and hence we conclude the Deity benevolent in the most universal impartial manner. Nor can we well imagine what else deserves the Name of Perfection but Benevolence, and those Capacitys or Abilitys which are necessary to make it effectual; such as Wisdom, and Power: at least we can have no other valuable Conception of it
 Tragedy of Hamlet
 See Sect, ii. Art. 7.
 See the Fable of the Bees, pages 34, 36, 3rd Ed.
 See the same Author in the same Place.
 Hoi. Ep. 1. Lib. 2. v. 31.
 See Sect. i
 See Sect. v. Art. 2.
 See above Sect. i. Art 5. Par. 5.
 See sect. 1.
 See the Fable of the Bees, page 68. 3rd Ed.
 See Sect. ii. Art 3' Par. I (§ 92); Art. 6. Par. 3 (§ 100).
 See Sect. ii. Art. 4 (§ 95).
 Vtde Sect. v.
 See Sect. ii. Art. 8 (§ 104).
 See Sect. vii. Art. 8, 9 (§ 180, 181).
 See above Sect. iii. Art. 3 Par. 3 (§ 113).
 See Sect. iii. Art. 10. Par. 1 (§ 123).
 Ld. Shaftesbury's Essay on Wit and Humour, Part. ill. Sect. ii.
 See below, Sect. vi. Art. 2. Par. 2 (§ 161).
 Hor. Ep. 6. Lib. 1. v. 15.
 See above, Sect. il. Art. 9. Par. 2, 3 (§ 1–,2).
 See above, Sect. ii. Art. 6. Par. 3 (§ 100).
 See above, Sect. iii. Art, 2, Par, 2 (§ 93).
 See above, Sect. ii. Art. 6 (§ 98–100).
 See Sect iii. Art. 15. Par. 2 (§ 131).
 Author of the Fable of the Bees, page 37. 3rd Ed.
 See the Fable of the Bees, page 38. 3rd Ed.
 See Sect vi. Art. 4 (§ 163).
 See Sect. ii. Art 8 Par. 2 (§ 104).
 Hot. Lib. 2. Sat. 6. v. 10.
Sect. iii, Art. 11. Axiom 6 (§ 126.
 See above, Sect. iv. Art. 4. Par. 4, 5 (J 141). L 2
 See Sect. v. Art. 8. PAY. _ (§§ I_6).
 See Homer, Ilvad 2,. 356, 590.
 See above, Sect. vi. Art. 1, 2 (§ 158–161),
 See Sect. iii. Art. II, 12. (§ 126, 127).
 See Sect. iii. Art. 15. Par. 3. (§ 132).
 See Art. 10, Par. 6, of this Section (§ 184).