Front Page Titles (by Subject) Sect. IV.: All mankind agree in this general foundation of their approbation of moral actions. the grounds of the different opinions about Morals. - British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, vol. 1
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Sect. IV.: All mankind agree in this general foundation of their approbation of moral actions. the grounds of the different opinions about Morals. - 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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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
sermons and dissertation upon virtue
Sermons, first edition, 1726 reprinted here from the second edition, 1729. (Preface dated Sept. 16, 1729.)
Dissertation upon Virtue appended to the 'Analogy,' first edition, 1736.
 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).