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Remarks on This Chapter - Johann Gottlieb Heineccius, A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations 
A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations, with Supplements and a Discourse by George Turnbull. Translated from the Latin by George Turnbull, edited with an Introduction by Thomas Albert and Peter Schröder (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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Remarks on This Chapter
I have but little to add to what our Author hath said of Religion. Our Harrington justly lays down the following truths relative to religion as aphorisms. “Nature is of God: some part in every religion is natural; an universal effect demonstrates an universal cause; an universal cause is not so much natural, as it is nature itself; but every man has either to his terror or his consolation, some sense of religion: man may therefore be rather defined a religious than a rational creature; in regard that other creatures have something of reason, but there is nothing of religion.”2 So we frequently find ancient philosophers reasoning about human nature and religion, as I have shewn from several authorities in the 7th chapter of my Principles of Moral Philosophy, the whole of which treatise is designed to be a demonstration à posteriori, i.e. from the wisdom and goodness of providence, that the whole world is made and governed by an infinitely perfect mind, in the contemplation, adoration and imitation of whom the chief happiness of man consists, according to his make and frame. The arguments, à priori, for the proof of a God, are shewn in the conclusion of that essay not to be so abstruse as is said by some; and they are more fully explained in my Christian Philosophy. The end, the happiness, the duty of a Being (all which ways of speaking must mean the same thing) can only be inferred from its frame and constitution, its make and situation. But nothing can be more evident than, “That man is made to love order, to delight in the idea of its universal prevalence throughout nature, and to have joy and satisfaction from the consciousness of order within his own breast, and in the conduct of his actions.” All the joys of which man is susceptible, which never nauseate or cloy, but are equally remote from grossness and disgust, or remorse, may be reduced to the love of order and harmony: nothing else can give him any pleasure in contemplation or in practice, but good order; the belief of good administration in the government of the world; the regular exercises of those generous affections which tend to public good; the consciousness of inward harmony; and the prevalence of good order and publick happiness in society, through regular and good government: to these classes are the principal pleasures for which man is framed by nature, reducible, as might be shewn, even from an analysis of the pleasures belonging to refined imagination or good taste in the polite arts: but whence such a constitution? Does it not necessarily lead us to acknowledge an infinitely perfect author of all things; an universal mind, the former and governor of the universe, which is itself perfect order and harmony, perfect goodness, perfect virtue? Whence could we have such a make? whence could we have understanding, reason, the capacity of forming ideas of general order and good, and of delighting so highly in it, but from such a Being? Thus the ancients reasoned. Thus the sacred writers often reason. And this argument is obvious to every understanding. It is natural to the mind of man. It is no sooner presented to it than it cleaves to it, takes hold of it with supreme satisfaction, and triumphs in it. And what part of nature does not lead us naturally to this conception, if we ever exercise our understanding, or if we do not wilfully shut our eyes? But having fully enlarged upon this and several other arguments for the Being of a God in my Principles of Moral Philosophy; I shall here only remark, 1. That Polybius, Cicero, and almost all the ancients, have acknowledged that a public sense of religion is necessary to the well-being and support of society: society can hardly subsist without it: or at least, it is the most powerful mean for restraining from vice, and promoting and upholding those virtues by which society subsists, and without which every thing that is great and comely in society, must soon perish and go to ruin. 2. That with regard to private persons, he who does not often employ his mind in reviewing the perfections of the Deity, and in consoling and strengthening his mind by the comfortable and mind-greatning reflexions to which meditation upon the universal providence of an all-perfect mind, naturally, and as it were necessarily lead, deprives himself of the greatest joy, the noblest exercise and entertainment the human mind is capable of; and whatever obligations there may be to virtue independent of, or abstract from such a perswasion, he cannot make such progress in virtue, he cannot be so firm, steady and unshaken in his adherence to it, as he who being persuaded of the truth just mentioned, is daily drawing virtuous strength and comfort from it. This is fully proved by an excellent writer on morals, who, not-withstanding hath been often most injuriously reproached for aiming at a scheme of virtue without religion.3 This author hath fully proved that the perfection and heighth of virtue must be owing to the belief of a God; since, where the latter is wanting, there can neither be the same benignity, firmness or constancy; the same good composure of the affections, or uniformity of mind, Characteristics, T. 2. p. 56, &c. 3. I would remark, that the being and providence of an universal, all-perfect mind, being once established, it plainly follows from hence, by necessary consequence, that all the duties of rational creatures may be reduced to this one, with several antient moralists, viz. “to act as becomes an intelligent active part of a good whole, and conformably to the temper and character of the all-governing mind.” This is acting agreeably to nature; to the nature of an intelligent creature endued with active powers, a sense of public good and order; agreeably to the nature of the Supreme Governor of all things, and to the order of his creation and government. All our duties may be reduced to, or comprehended under that one general article of acting as becomes an intelligent part of a good whole: for to do so, we must delight in the author of the world, and resign to his will cheerfully the management of all things independent of our will; and by our will cheerfully co-operate with him in the pursuit of publick good, as far as we are active and have power, or as things are made by him dependent upon our will and conduct. He who is incapable of receiving pleasure from the belief of a God, and the contemplation of general order and harmony, must be a very imperfect creature: for he wants the noblest of senses or faculties. And he who can delight in the contrary persuasion, i.e. in the idea of a fatherless world and blind chance, or, which is yet more horrible, malignant administration, must have a very perverted mind, if perversion has any meaning: he must be as properly a monster, in respect of a moral frame, as any deformity is monstrous in regard to bodily texture.
Of the duties of man to himself.
Man is obliged to love himself.Nothing is nearer to man, besides the ever-blessed God, than he is to himself; nature having inlaid into his frame such a sensibility to his interests, and so tender a love of himself, that we justly look upon him to be out of his senses and distracted, who hates and wishes ill to himself. Nor is this self-love unjust, while it does not disturb good order. For it is that love with which one delights in his own perfections and happiness, and is concerned to procure and augment these goods. But since God hath created us, and adorned us with many excellent perfections, and given us the means of improving in perfection and happiness, he must be concluded to will that we should endeavour to promote our happiness and perfection, and be delighted with it; i.e. that we should love our selves (§92).
What this love is.From which we have already inferred (§92), that man is bound to pursue, promote, and preserve his own perfection and happiness, as far as is consistent with the love of the supreme Being.*
What are its objects.Since man is obliged, by the will of God, to all and every thing which tends to promote, preserve, and enlarge his happiness and perfection (§140); and man consists, not only of mind, but of body likewise, in such a manner, that he is a compound of body and mind; the consequence is, that man is obliged to promote the perfection of both his constituent parts; and because the faculties of the mind are two, understanding and will, he is obliged to study the perfection of both; wherefore the duties of man, with respect to himself, are relative partly to the whole man, partly to the understanding, partly to the will, and partly to his body and external state.*
These duties ought not to be severed.Whence we conclude, that these duties ought not to be severed from one another; and therefore, that neither the mind nor the body ought totally to be neglected: but if it should happen that the duties due to both cannot be performed, we ought, of many perfections and goods, which cannot be obtained at one and the same time, to choose the most excellent and necessary (§94). And therefore the mind being more excellent than the body, we ought to be more diligent about the perfecting of our minds than our bodies, yet so as not to neglect the latter.*
Man is obliged to preserve his life and eschew death.As for what relates to the whole man, as consisting of soul and body, his felicity and perfection as such, consists in this, that the union of his mind and body be safe, because these parts being separated, tho’ the mind, being immortal, survive, yet the man no longer subsists. Man therefore is obliged to take care to preserve his life, and to avoid the dissolution of the union between his body and mind, which is death, unless the mind be persuaded of a greater good to be obtained by death: in which case one ought not indeed voluntarily to choose death, but to suffer the menaces of it and itself with a brave and intrepid magnanimity.†
And therefore self-murder is unlawful.Hence moreover we infer, that he acts contrary to his duty who lays violent hands on himself. And this may be proved from other considerations, as, that this action is repugnant to the nature of love, and to a right disposition of mind, and therefore involves an absurdity or contradiction in it; that it is inconsistent with that trust and resignation which are due to God, and that acquiescence in the divine will, which we have already shewn to be commanded by the law of nature (§134). But it will be sufficient to add this one argument. Man is obliged to love man as himself; and therefore himself as others (§93). But the love of justice does not permit us to kill a man, therefore self-love does not permit us to destroy ourselves.*
So is the neglect of life and health.From the same principles laid down (§143), it is evident that they act no less contrary to their duty who hasten their death by immoderate labour, or by luxury and lasciviousness, or who do not take proper care of their health; and who, when neither duty calls, nor necessity urges, voluntarily expose themselves to danger, and bring themselves into peril or pain by their own fault.†
The duties of man with regard to his understanding.The perfection of human understanding certainly consists in the knowledge of truth and good; to acquire, enlarge, and preserve which man being obliged (§140), the consequence is, that every one is bound to exert himself to strengthen and cultivate his understanding, or to improve his faculty of discerning truth from falshood, and good from evil; and to let no opportunity pass neglected, whether of instruction from others, from books, or from experience, of learning useful truths, and wholesome precepts and maxims concerning good and evil,* that thus he may attain to all the useful knowledge within his reach; and if he be in that condition of life that does not allow him to learn all that it is useful to know, he may at least be master of what it is most necessary and advantageous for him to understand, and have that at his command as ready coin, so to speak.
Of the particular culture to which particulars are obliged.From which last proposition (§146), it follows, that whereas all persons are equally obliged to the duties hitherto mentioned; every one is for himself in particular obliged to that special culture of his understanding, which is suitable to his particular talents and genius, and to his rank and condition in life; and therefore every one ought to know his force and genius, and one is hardly excusable if he chooses a way of life to himself for which he is not qualified, or if he forces any in his power,* under his authority, or committed to his direction, so to do.
Duties relative to the will.The perfection of the will consists in the desire and fruition of good. But since we cannot pursue good, unless we have first conceived a just notion of its excellence, nor avoid evil, unless we know it to be such (§30); hence it is manifest, that we ought not to acquiesce in any knowledge of good and evil whatsoever, but exert ourselves with all our power to have a true and lively conception of them; that not every good is to be chosen, but of many goods that which is best and most necessary: yea, that evil ought not to be avoided, if it be necessary to our attaining to a greater good: and finally, that our chief good ought to be desired and pursued above all things; and that we ought to bear the want of other goods with a patient and satisfied mind, if we cannot attain it without being deprived of them.†
The amendment of the will is chiefly necessary.Further, since he who is obliged to the end, is likewise obliged to the means, it follows, that none of these means ought to be neglected which right reason shews to be necessary or proper for attaining to our greatest happiness; but that we ought to apply ourselves with uninterrupted care daily to amend and perfect our minds, to obtain the right government of our affections, and to rescue ourselves from every vitious appetite and passion.*
Our obligation to preserve and perfect our body.It now remains to speak of our body, the perfection of which consists in the fitness of all its parts to perform their necessary functions; and it is plain that we are obliged to take care of our health, and therefore to direct our eating and drinking, labour, exercise, and every thing to that end; to the preservation of our health, and the increase of our strength and agility;* and, on the other hand, to avoid, as much as lies in our power, whatever tends to maim, hurt, or destroy our bodies, or any of its members, in any degree.
How far one is obliged to seek riches.But all this is enjoined in vain, if one be so distressed by poverty, that he has it not in his power either to live in a wholesome manner, nor to regu-late his labour as his health requires; and therefore it is obvious, that a person must have a right to seek after the things that are necessary to subsistence and decent living. When the provision of these things is abundant, it is called wealth or riches; and every one is obliged to acquire as large a share of them as he can by just means, and to preserve and use prudently what he hath justly acquired.†
And therefore to industry.But because the end cannot be acquired without the means, and there is no other mean of acquiring what is necessary to supply our necessities but labour and industry, it is manifest that every one is bound to go through with the labours of the business in life he hath chosen with a cheerful mind, and to give all diligence to get a comfortable subsistence; and therefore he acts contrary to duty who lives in idleness, and thus brings poverty and misery upon himself; for such distress is ignominious; whereas poverty is not criminal or shameful, when one, who does all in his power, is overwhelmed by some private or public calamity; or when one, without his own fault, can find no occasion of doing for himself.*
And likewise to preserve and increase our good name.Since a person ought not to neglect any of those things which are necessary to increase or preserve his happiness (§140); and none can doubt but a good name, which consists in the favourable opinion of others with regard to our virtue and accomplishments, is necessary to preserve and increase our happiness. [For one, of whose virtue and accomplishments all think well, all think worthy of happiness, and all are therefore sollicitous to promote his happiness.] For these reasons, every one is obliged to take care of his reputation, as a mean of his happiness; and therefore to act in every affair, private or public, as reason directs, and not only to preserve his good name by worthy actions, but, as much as lies in his power, to increase it.*
And to refute aspersions.But if it be one’s duty to take care to preserve his good name unblemished (§153); since calumnies, i.e. false reports, may blacken it; the consequence is, that we ought to omit nothing that is necessary to wipe off aspersions cast injuriously upon us, unless they be so groundless and malicious, or the author of them so contemptible, that it is better to overlook them with generous contempt.*
Whether in case of necessity our duties to ourselves ought to be prefered before those to God.Tho’ so far the love of ourselves be most just and lawful; yet, no doubt, it becomes vitious, so soon as it exceeds its due bounds, and gets the ascendant over our love to God, the most perfect of Beings (§92); and hence we concluded above, (§140), that all our duties to ourselves keep their due rank and place, if they are performed in proper subordination to the love of God, or do not encroach upon it; whence it is manifest, that the common maxim, “That necessity has no law,” is not universally true.†
Upon what it is founded.But seeing this rule is not always true; and yet in some cases it ought to be admitted (§155); different cases must be distinguished: now, because in an action imposed upon us by sovereign necessity, no other circumstance can vary the case, but either necessity itself, the nature of the law, or the nature of the duty to be omitted, these circumstances ought therefore to be a little more accurately and distinctly considered, in order to be able to determine how far necessity has the power of a law, and when it has not.
Necessity what it is, and of what kinds.By necessity we understand such a situation of a person, in which he cannot obey a law without incurring danger. This danger, as often as it extends to life itself, is extreme; and when it does not, it ought to be measured by the greatness of the impendent evil. Again, necessity is absolute, when it cannot be avoided by any means but by violating a law; and it is relative, when another might avoid it, but not the person now in the circumstances.*
Where necessity merits favour.Now every one may easily perceive, that not only extreme necessity, but even necessity in which life is not in danger, comes here into the account. For because some calamities are bitterer than death, who can doubt but such may strike terror into the most intrepid breast; such as being deprived of one’s eyes, and other such like distresses. Besides, since of two physical evils the least is to be chosen, the consequence must be, that not only absolute necessity deserves favour, but even relative necessity, if one had no hand in bringing himself into the strait.*
Affirmative laws, divine and human, admit the exception of necessity.Law being either divine or human, and both being either affirmative or negative (§64); because even a sovereign cannot oblige one to suffer death without a fault, the consequence is, that all human laws ought regularly to be understood, with the exception of necessity. And the same is true of divine affirmative laws, because the omission of an action cannot be imputed to one, if the occasion for performing it was wanting (§114), unless the omission be of such a nature and kind, that it tends directly to reflect dishonour on God; in which case, the negative law, forbidding all such actions likewise concurs (§131). And to this case belongs the action of Daniel, Dan. vi. 10.*
But not divine negative laws relative to our duties to God or ourselves.Divine negative laws bind us either to duties towards God, towards our selves, or towards other men (§90 & 124). Those which respect our duties towards God are of such a nature, that they cannot be intermitted without dishonouring God. But we are strictly bound to avoid whatever tends to dishonour God; the consequence of which is, that no necessity can excuse the violation of the negative laws relating to our duties towards God.† On the other hand, in a collision of two duties respecting ourselves, the safest course is to choose the least of two physical evils.
Divine affirmative laws respecting our duties to others admit of favour in the case of necessity.As to our duties towards other men, affirmative laws, ’tis certain, admit of favour in the case of necessity; partly because an omission cannot be imputed when the occasion of performing a duty was wanting (§114); partly because the law of benevolence does not oblige us to delight in the happiness of others more than our own, or to love others better than ourselves (§94); and so far the maxim holds just, “Every one is nearest to himself.”*
What is the case with regard to negative laws.Moreover negative laws, relative to our social duties, in the case of providential necessity, interfere either with the duty of self-preservation, or with the duty of defending and increasing our perfection and happiness. Now in the former situation, since we are not obliged to love others more than ourselves, (§94), without doubt, in the case of necessity, every way of preserving ourselves is allowable, when a man hath not fallen under that necessity by his own neglect or default; or if the condition of the persons be equal; for equality leaves no room to favour or privilege. In the latter case, it is better for us to want some perfection, or some particular kind or degree of happiness, than that another should perish that we may have it.†
What if the necessity proceeds from human malice? All this holds true, if the necessity we are under be merely providential (§142); but if it proceeds from the malice of men, they do it either that we may perish, or that they may lay us under the necessity of acting wrong. And in the former case, since we are not bound to love any other better than ourselves, much less a bad person (§94); he is justly excusable who suffers another to perish rather than himself. In the latter case, the cruelest things ought to be submitted to, rather than do any thing dishonourable to God (§131).*
An admonition with regard to the application of these rules to particular cases.Having mentioned these rules, most of which have been fully explained by others,† it will not be difficult to determine the cases proposed by Pufendorff and others. Indeed, if we attend narrowly to the matter, we will find that many proposed on this subject are such as very rarely happen, and many others are of such a nature, that all is transacted in an instant, so that there is hardly time or room for calling in reason to give its judgment of the justice, or injustice of an action; to which cases, we may not improperly apply what Terence says,
For which reason, it is better to leave many of these cases to the mercy of God, than to enter into too severe a discussion of them.
Whether it be lawful to cut off a member.Thus none can doubt but necessity will excuse a person who must let a member be cut off to prevent his perishing; or that the other parts may not be endangered by it. For tho’ we owe both these duties to ourselves, viz. to preserve our life, and to preserve every member intire, yet the least of two physical evils is to be chosen (§160); and it is certainly a lesser evil to be deprived of a member than to lose life. It is therefore a lawful mean of saving life to do it by the loss of a member.*
Whether it be lawful to eat human flesh in extreme necessity?There is no doubt but that they are excusable, who in extreme hunger and want have recourse to any food, even to the flesh of dead men: for since here there is a contest between two duties towards ourselves; of two physical evils, death and detestable food, the least ought to be chosen (§160). But he is by no means excusable who kills another, that he may prolong a little his own miserable life by eating his flesh; for however direful and imperious the necessity of long hunger may be, it does not give us a right to another’s life that we ourselves may be saved, because here the condition and necessity* of both persons are equal (§162).
Whether in shipwreck?The case is not the same, when one in shipwreck, having got upon a plank only sufficient to save himself, keeps others from it with all his force; or with those who leaping first into a boat, will not allow others, whom it cannot contain with safety, to come into it, but precipitate them into the sea; because in these cases, he who first seized the plank, or they who first got into the boat, are in possession, and therefore others have no right to deprive them of it, tho’ they be in the same danger. And who will not own, that it is a less evil that a few, than that all should perish, or a greater good that a few, than that none should be saved?†
Whether necessity excuses an executioner commanded to put an innocent person to death.I can by no means think an executioner, or any other, excusable, who being commanded to put an innocent person to death, thinks he ought to obey, and that his own danger is sufficient to exculpate him. For this necessity proceeds from the wickedness of men; and in such a case every one ought to bear every thing, rather than do any thing tending to dishonour God (§163).*
Whether it be lawful to throw down one who is in our way when we fly.But an innocent person, to save his life, may, in flying from his enemy, push out of his way, or throw down any person who stops or hinders his flight, even tho’ he may have reason to suspect the person may thereby be hurted. For if one stops the person who flies with a bad intention, this necessity proceeds from human malice, and such a person really does what he can to make the person flying perish. And if one be in his way, without any intention to hurt him, this necessity is providential in respect of the flyer. But in both cases, every way of saving one’s self is allowable (§163).*
Whether in case of necessity we may lawfully seize upon another’s goods?The same must be said of those cases in which one is necessitated by hunger or cold to lay hold of the goods belonging to others;† or when, in the danger of shipwreck, the goods of others must be thrown over board. For, in the first case, the necessity arises from the malice of men in suffering any to be in imminent danger from hunger or cold, (§163); and, in the last case, of two physical evils the least is chosen, when, in the danger of shipwreck, men perceiving that they must either perish themselves together with the goods, or make reparation to others for their goods which are cast in this necessity into the sea (§160),‡ throw them over board.
The conclusion of this chapter.But numberless such cases may happen, or at least may be put, some of which are truly perplexed and dubious; and therefore let us not forget the admonition already mentioned (§164). We shall add no more upon the subject, leaving other questions to those who assume to themselves the province of commanding or guiding mens consciences.
[2 ] Harrington, “Political Aphorisms,” nos. 30–35 in Harrington, Political Works, pp. 765–66.
[3 ] That is, the Earl of Shaftesbury.
[* ] Therefore, we do not perform these duties to ourselves that we may be happy (for we have shewn above, that this tenet is false, that utility is the only source or rule of just and unjust) but because God wills that we study to promote our happiness and perfection: and therefore to promote our perfection and happiness is itself our duty; and is not the cause which impels or obliges us to it.
[* ] It is proper to observe this, in opposition to the doctrine of Socrates and others, who maintained that the body is not a part of man, but his instrument only, and that external things do not properly appertain to man, or in the least concern him. So Simplicius, in his preface to his commentary on Epictetus, “If a man commands his body, and the body doth not so much as command itself, then man is not body, and for the same reason, he is not both mind and body, but wholly mind.” [[Simplicius, Commentarius in Enchiridion Epicteti (On Epictetus’ Handbook, Introduction, 37–40). Whence he a little after reasons thus: “He who bestows his care upon the body, bestows it upon things which belong not to man, but his instrument: But he, whose study and cares are set upon riches, and such like external things, bestows his care neither upon man, nor his instrument, but upon things subservient to that instrument.” Many other such foolish boasts we find in some ancient writers, which are equally false and hurtful.]]
[* ] They therefore act contrary to their duty, who are so taken up about the body that they suffer their mind, as it were, to brutalize. But, on the other hand, they do not fulfil the whole of their duty, who impair their bodies by their too sedulous uninterrupted application to the culture of their minds in knowledge and wisdom. Neither of these duties is to be neglected.
[† ] There is reason therefore to pronounce Hegesias πειθιθάνατος, to have been mad, who thought man obliged to put an end to his life, and went about urging men to destroy themselves, by so many arguments that his hearers threw themselves in great numbers into the sea. Cic. Tusc. 1. 34. Valer. Max. 8. 9. [[Valerius Maximus, Memorable Doings and Sayings, vol. 2, 249. For if it be true, that one must be distracted and out of his senses to hate himself (§139), we must say of Hegesias’s doctrine and conduct with a poet on another occasion,
Non sani esse hominis, non sanus juret Orestes;
Persius, Satires 3.118: “which the mad Orestes himself would swear were the acts of a madman.”
especially, since he reduced all human obligations to pleasure, and admitted not of a future existence, from which any consolation could be drawn to make death more desirable than an afflicted life. On the other hand, the apostle’s desire was not contrary to his duty, when he longed to be dissolved: nor are the martyrs to be blamed, who, supported by the hopes of immortal glory after death, feared no tortures; because an evil which delivers us from a greater one, and procures us a very great good, is rather to be accounted good than ill.]]
[* ] Thus we ought to reason with those who are capable of reasoning; as for those who are furious and out of themselves, the fatal action is not to be imputed to them (§106). Nothing can excuse self-murder but madness: not a guilty conscience, since there are means of quieting it, viz. by reformation: nor the greatest distress and pain; for tho’ it be true, that of two evils the least ought to be chosen; yet voluntary self-murder is not a physical but a moral evil, which cannot be chosen; and no calamity or pain is so great, but it may be alleviated by resignation to the divine will: let me add, that it is not the least species of madness to die for fear of dying. See Wolf. Philosoph. Moral. §340 & seq. [[Wolff, Philosophia moralis sive ethica, vol. 1.]]
[† ] For whoever is the author or cause of an action, to him that action is justly imputable (§105). But who will call it into question, that he is the cause of his death who destroys and tortures himself by excessive toil? he who wears out and wastes the strength of his body by riotous living? He who takes no care of his health, but exposes himself unnecessarily to manifest dangers? Since therefore, even in foro humano, by the Lex Cornelia, not only he is guilty of murder, who with premeditated evil intention directly kills a man, but even he who was the cause of his death; (I. 16. §8. Dig. de poenis, I. 1. D. ad L. Corneliani de Sicar.) who can doubt but he must be guilty of self-murder in foro divino, who was the cause of his own death?
[* ] This knowledge is equally necessary to all men, partly because the will cannot pursue but what the understanding represents to it as good, nor decline but what the understanding hath discerned to be evil (§30); and partly because even actions done through ignorance are imputed, so far as the law might, and ought to have been understood (§108). Sophocles therefore says with good reason in his Antig. v. 1321. “To have wisdom is the principal thing with regard to happiness.” [[Sophocles, Antigone, line 1348, in Sophocles, ed. and trans. Lloyd-Jones.]]
[* ] The culture therefore of our understanding, to which we are obliged, is either general, to which all men are equally bound, of which §146; or special, of which in this section. The foundation of this distinction is, that all men have reason in common; but every particular person has his particular cast and genius, his particular talents; understanding, memory and judgment not being common to all in the same degree. All men are therefore obliged to cultivate their reason, but all men are not equally well qualified for the same way of life, the same profession and business. Whence we may, moreover, conclude, that an internal special call (if we set aside divine inspiration) is nothing else but the will of God concerning the particular kind of life one ought to choose, manifested to one by the gifts and talents with which he is endued, of which Perseus speaks, Sat. 3. v. 71.Quem te Deus esseFussit, & humana qua parte locatus es in re,Disce.—
[[Persius, Satires 3.71: “Learn what god has ordered you to be and in what part of the human condition you have been placed.”
[† ] They are therefore mistaken, as we have already observed, who place our chief happiness, which we ought to pursue in this life, in the enjoyment of all goods; as Plato in Cicero. Qu. Acad. l. 6. [[Cicero, “Academica Libri,” I.19–21 in Cicero, On Academic Scepticism. For because such enjoyment is above human power, and the condition of this life, the consequence is, that we should apply our endeavours to attain to our best and greatest good, what our Saviour elegantly calls, “τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα, the good part,” Luke x. 42.]]
[* ] For these often so mislead a man, that he falls short of his end; is deprived of true happiness, and makes a sad shipwreck of it. Besides, in general none can perform his duty aright who is not master of his passions and appetites, because these so distort and pervert the judgment, that nothing can be done in order, or according to the right rule. Hence that excellent advice of the poet,Ne fraenos animo permitte calenti:Da spacium, tenuemque moram, male cuncta ministratImpetus.Pap. Stat. Theb. l. 10. 626.
[[Statius, Thebaid, vol. 2, bk. 10, 703–5 (not 626).
The case is this: “Reason, to which the reins are committed, is strong, while it is undisturbed by the affections: but if these mix with it they darken and pollute it; it cannot govern or keep within due bounds what it cannot restrain or withdraw: the mind, when it is shaken and agitated by any passion, is a slave to it, and driven by it at its pleasure.” Seneca de Ira, v. 7. Seneca, De ira, 1.7, in Moral Essays, vol. 1, 125.]]
[* ] But in this every one ought to have regard to his rank and station in life. For one degree and kind of vigour, agility and dexterity is requisite in one station, and another in another; one, e.g. to a wrestler, another to an artist, another to a soldier, and another to a man of letters. Whence it follows, that the same kind of exercise is not proper to every person; and therefore that prudence ought to have its end before its eyes, and to choose means suited to it. Regard ought also to be had to different ages of life. “An old man, if he be wise, does not desire the strength of a young man, no more than a young man does that of a bull or elephant,” says Cicero, Cato major. c. 9. [[Cicero, Cato maior de senectute 9.27, p. 66. And for this reason, one kind of exercise is proper to old men, and another to young. “As we ought to fight against diseases,” says he, “so ought we likewise against old age. We ought to take care of our health, to use moderate exercise, and to eat and drink so as to refresh, not oppress our bodies.”]]
[† ] We do not by saying so approve of avarice, the basest and most pernicious of vices. For an avaricious person desires riches for riches sake; but a person who is wisely selfish, only desires them for the sake of living decently. To the former, no gain, nor no means of increasing wealth appear base and sordid; nay, so much as unjust; but this is the constant language of his heart,O cives, cives, quaerenda pecunia primum:Virtus post nummos.
[[Horace, Epistles 1.1.53, in Satires, Epistles, and Ars Poetica: “O citizens, citizens, money you first must seek; virtue after pelf.”
The other does not scrape riches, but takes hold of every allowable opportunity of gaining them. In fine, whereas the miser is insatiable, and yet does not enjoy his possessions, the other manages his affairs quite otherwise; and this is the genuine language of his soul,Haud paravero,Quod aut avarus ut Chremes terra premam,Discinctus aut perdam ut nepos.
Horace, Epodes 1.32, in Odes and Epodes: “I do not mean to amass something simply to bury it in the ground like that miser Chremes, or to squander it like a slovenly wastrel.”
He manages his estate with prudent oeconomy, that he may not be forced to live at the expence of others, or shamefully to spunge them; that he may not be a burden or a shame to his friends; that he may not be continually harassed by dunning creditors or squeezing usurers; that he may have wherewithal to relieve the indigent, and assist his friends, and that his children may have no cause to reproach him after his death for their distress. And who will deny that these duties are incumbent upon every good man?]]
[* ] Both therefore belong to the duty of a good man, not to let any occasion slip of bettering his fortune without profiting by it, and to bear honest poverty with an equal mind. Job did both. And Horace joins both these duties together, who thus complains, in his elegant way, of the instability of fortune:Laudo manentem. Si celeres quatitPennas: resigno, quae dedit, & meaVirtute me involvo, probamquePauperiem sine dote quaero.Carm. l. 3. 29. v. 53.
[[Horace, Odes 3.29.53, in Odes and Epodes: “I praise her [Fortune] while she stays, but if she shakes her swift wings, I return her presents, wrap myself in my virtue, and go in search of honest Poverty, though she brings no dowry.”
[* ] But if this be the interest and duty, even of those who have never diminished or sullied their reputation by any base action, how much more are those, whose youth is not free from blemishes, obliged to endeavour to wipe them off, and procure a good reputation by virtuous deeds? Themistocles is an example to us of this, of whom Cornelius Nepos, c. 1. says, “This reproach did not break but erect his spirit. For perceiving it could not be overcome but by the greatest virtue, he devoted himself wholly and zealously to the service of the public and of his friends, by which means he soon became illustrious.” [[Cornelius Nepos, “Themistocles,” 23, in Cornelius Nepos, trans. Rolfe. Sueton observes of Titus, “That he was recovered from the vices into which his mind had strayed in his youth, by shame and the fear of ignominy,” Tit. c. 7. This appears to be a—not entirely accurate—paraphrase of, rather than a quotation from, a passage in Suetonius’s life of Titus (Suetonius, Suetonius, vol. 2, 330–31). Other Examples are to be found in Valerius Maximus, c. 9. and Macrobius, Saturn. 2. 9. Valerius Maximus, Memorable Doings and Sayings, vol. 1, bk. II, chap. 9; Macrobius, Saturnalia, though the reference to bk. 2, chap. 9, appears to be incorrect, and it is not clear which passage Heineccius has in mind here.]]
[* ] Those are called manifest calumnies, which it is not worth while to give one’s self the trouble of confuting. These no more disturb a good man than the barking of little dogs. And he who shamefully spits out such against one, does not hurt another’s reputation, but wholly destroys his own. So Simplicius upon Epictetus, c. 64. teaches us: “As, if it be day, the sun is above the earth, and he who denies it does hurt only to himself, and not to the truth. So he who injures you, or throws false calumnies upon you, wrongs himself, he does not hurt you, or do you any mischief.” [[Simplicius, On Epictetus’ Handbook, vol. 2, p. 110. The case is different if the calumny be specious, i.e. attended with some probability, which may not only deceive the unwary, but even the most prudent and cautious. For he who does not take proper methods to refute such reproaches and clear himself, must appear diffident of his cause, and therefore he falls short of the care he is obliged to, with respect to maintaining his good character and name entire and unblamed. For that ought to be as dear to one as life.]]
[† ] This aphorism is in every one’s mouth, and produced on every occasion as an oracle, as if there were nothing so base and criminal but necessity would render it excusable. Euripides, in a fragment of Hippolyt. obtect. says,Quoties periclum est, ex mea sententiaNecessitati debet & lex cedere.
“In my opinion, in cases of imminent danger, even law ought to give way to necessity.” [[Euripides, Hippolytus (translated into Latin). And if this maxim were absolutely true, the martyrs must have sinned, who paying no regard to the indulgence necessity affords, could not be induced to offer the smallest quantity of incense to false deities, to escape the severest tortures: nor did Joseph act less foolishly, who chose rather to expose his life and liberty to the greatest danger than satisfy the lust of his mistress: Nor would any wise man blame a soldier for deserting his station, when attacked by an enemy whom he was not able to resist. And I might add more examples, but these are sufficient to shew, that this maxim about necessity cannot be absolutely true in every case.]]
[* ] The martyrs were in the case of extreme necessity, being obliged to renounce Christ, or to undergo the most violent tortures. But it was not extreme necessity which forced the Christians to apostacy, when Julian excluded them from all opportunities of liberal education, from civil honours, and from military service. [[Julian (“the Apostate”) was Roman emperor from 355 to 363. He reversed the religious policies of his Christian predecessors and restored pagan religion. Daniel was in the case of absolute necessity, when he was to be exposed to savage beasts, unless he gave over praying to God. The necessity with which David struggled when he must have perished by hunger, or have eat the shew-bread, was relative. For another who had undertaken a journey without flying precipitantly, would certainly have found other bread to satisfy his hunger.]]
[* ] If one unnecessarily exposes himself to danger, he is the cause of the necessity he is brought under, and therefore the event ought to be imputed to him (§105). And for this reason, the necessity into which one threw himself, who having torn an edict against the Christians into pieces, was most terribly tortured, scarcely merited favour. Lactant. de mort. persequut. cap. 13. [[Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum, 21. But if one should commit any thing contrary to probity and justice, even to escape death and tortures, who will deny that he does ill? Quintus, mentioned by the church of Smyrna, in a letter concerning the martyrdom of Polycarpus, is an example of this, who having voluntarily offered himself to martyrdom, and persuaded others to do the same, so soon as he saw the beasts, swore by the genius of Caesar, and defiled himself by offering an idolatrous sacrifice: upon which occasion the Smyrneans thus express themselves, “We do not approve, say they, our brethren who unnecessarily or imprudently expose and betray themselves, since it is otherwise commanded in the gospel.” And we find the like admonitions in Origen upon John xi. Origen (ca. 185–ca. 254): early Greek Father of the Church and author of a commentary on the Gospel according to John.]]
[* ] All this is clear. Men when they submit themselves to civil government, transfer to the magistrate all power, without which the end of government cannot be obtained. They therefore transfer to him the power of life and death, not promiscuously, because that is contrary to the end of government, but only so far as the public safety requires it. Therefore the supreme magistrate cannot oblige his subjects to suffer death without a reason, but then only when the public safety or good requires it; and therefore, his laws are regularly to be understood, with the exception of necessity. Hence Grotius says elegantly, de jure belli & pacis, 1. 4. 7. 2. “Laws ought to be, and commonly are made by men with a sense of human weakness.”
[† ] Hence it is plain, that there is no excuse for him, who suffers himself to be tempted by any necessity he may be under to blaspheme God, sacrifice to idols, or contaminate himself by perjury. This the Pagan writers have acknowledged. So Juvenal,Ambiguae si quando citabere testisIncertaeque rei, Phalaris licet imperet, ut sisFalsus, & admoto dictet perjuria tauro,Summum crede nefas, animam praeferre pudoriEt propter vitam vivendi perdere caussas.Sat. 8.
[[Juvenal, Satires 8.80–84, in Juvenal and Persius: “If you’re summoned as a witness in some tricky, murky case, even if Phalaris commands you to commit perjury and dictates his lies with his Torture-bull close by, think it to be the worst evil to put survival ahead of honour and for the sake of life to lose the reasons for living.”
But tho’ those who succumb under such a direful necessity are not excusable, yet the sense of human weakness obliges us to pity their lot who were shaken by such a cruel necessity, since we know that Peter found pardon for having denied Christ, after he had repented, Matt. xxvi. 75.]]
[* ] Thus, e.g. the divine law does not oblige one to ruin himself to save another, or to give to another the small morsel of bread that remains to himself, when he is starving. That, the most holy and strict law of love inculcated by the Christian religion does not require, 2 Cor. viii. 13. Wherefore Seneca says rightly, de benefic. 2. 15. “I will give to the needy, but so that I may not want myself: I will relieve him who is ready to perish, but so that I may not perish myself.” [[Seneca, “On Benefits,” in Seneca, Moral Essays, vol. 3. And this was the meaning of the scholastic doctors, when they pronounced this rule, “Well ordered charity begins at home.”]]
[† ] For to want any perfection is a physical evil, if it be not our fault that we have it not. But to make another perish is a moral evil, which is always to be reckoned greater than any physical one. But since the least of two physical evils ought to be chosen, and therefore a physical evil is to be undergone rather than any moral one is to be acted, he certainly doth no evil, who in such a case chooses to save another person with some detriment to himself; wherefore, tho’ he is not to be blamed who in a shipwreck catching hold of a plank which will not hold two, hinders another from getting upon it, yet he is altogether inexcusable, who by the hopes of greater happiness to himself, is induced to betray his friend against all honour and conscience.
[* ] Thus, for example, if we should fall into the ambuscades or hands of robbers, every way of extricating ourselves out of this danger is allowable, because no reason binds us to prefer the safety of a robber to our own. But Joseph would have acted ill, if he had feared a prison, and chains more than adultery, to which Potiphar’s wife endeavoured to seduce him.
[† ] Most of the preceding rules have been already treated of by Thomasius, Jurisp. divin. 2. 2. 143. & seq. but not upon the same principles we have here laid down. But the same author afterwards is for sequestrating them from the law of nature, and for recalling this one rule, “That all laws include a tacite exception of necessity”: but we can see no ground for omitting or sequestrating exceptions, which, what hath been said, fully proves to be founded upon, and to flow from right reason itself.
[1 ] “We can all readily give good advice to the sick when we’re well. If you were in my place, you would feel differently.” (The Woman of Andros, lines 309–10, in vol. 1 of Terence, Terence.)
[* ] But it is a more difficult question, whether it be a preceptive law of nature, and whether he does contrary to his duty, who being in the direful necessity above mentioned, chooses rather to die than to bear pain, to which he feels himself unequal; especially when it is not certain what may be the event of the amputation, seeing not fewer who have undergone the torment with great constancy have perished than have been saved. Old age, bodily infirmity, the dangerous nature of the disease, the difference in opinion among the physicians, the unskilfulness or want of experience in the surgeon, all these considerations may easily determine one to think the cure more uneligible than death itself, and to judge it better to die without suffering such exquisite pain, than run the risk of undergoing it without success. Wherefore, I would have us to remember the admonition given above, and to leave such cases to the divine judgment and mercy, rather than to pronounce hardily and rashly about them.
[* ] But what if all the persons being under the same fatal necessity should by consent commit it to lot to determine which of them should be sacrificed to the preservation of the rest, (as in the case of the seven Britons, quoted by Ziegler upon Grotius de jure belli & pacis, 2. 1. 3. [[Caspar Ziegler (1621–90), German jurist, professor at Wittenberg. He published In Hugonis Grotii De jure belli ac pacis libros. from the observations of Tulpius, Obser. medic. 1. 43.) Tulp, Observationes medicae. Here I affirm the same thing. For none hath a right to take away another’s life. And he who consents to his own murder is as guilty as he who kills himself or another. Ziegler justly asserts, ibidem p. 189. “That none ought so far to despise his own life, as to throw it away to satisfy another’s hunger, nor ought others to attack their neighbour’s life to quell their own cravings.” To which Pufendorff hath not given an answer altogether satisfactory, de jure nat. & gent. 2. 6. 3.]]
[† ] Upon the same principle may the case be decided of soldiers flying into a fortified camp or city, who shut the gates against those who arrive a little later, lest the enemy should get in at the same time with them. Such was the deed of Pandarus, described by Virgil, Aen. 9. v. 722. & seq. [[Virgil, Aeneid, bk. 9, l. 722 (Virgil, trans. Fairclough, vol. 2, 163) and of others, of which cases, see Freinsh. ad Curt. 4. 16. 8. This refers to a commentary by Johann Frenshemius on Quintus Curtius Rufus’s history of Alexander the Great (Alexander magnus), which was reprinted in several editions in the seventeenth century. But in all these, we are carefully to consider whether the necessity be extreme and absolute (158), or the danger be more remote, and such as might otherwise be avoided. Hence the humanity of Darius, flying from Alexander, is very commendable, who, when he was pressed to cut the bridge over the Lycus, answered, “That he would much rather leave a passage to the pursuers, than cut it off from the flyers,” Curt. 4. 16.]]
[* ] Besides, nothing ought to be done in opposition to the certainty of conscience (§45): but here the executioner is supposed to know certainly the person whom he is commanded to put to death to be innocent: who then can absolve him from guilt? Nor does Pufendorff’s distinction alter the case: “For tho’ he says, that when an executioner merely executes the command of another, the action can no more be imputed to him than to the hatchet or sword,” jur. nat. & gent. 1. 5. 9. 8. 1. 5. 6. yet certainly there is a wide difference between a sword or a hatchet, mere inanimate things, and a man endued with reason, whose conscience tells him the sentence he is to execute is unjust.
[* ] We need not stay to refute the contrary opinion of Albertus. Comp. jur. nat. orthod. conform. cap. 3. §17. [[Alberti, Compendium juris naturae, orthodoxae theologiae. For his argument taken from the unlawfulness of killing an innocent person in the state of integrity, is nothing to the purpose; because neither is the principle of natural law to be deduced from that state (§74); nor in that state can any danger be conceived that must be avoided by such an unhappy flight.]]
[† ] Those who differ from us in this matter call these actions theft, which they pronounce so great a crime that it can never be committed without guilt, even in circumstances of the most urgent necessity. But if killing a man, even according to the principles those very authors go upon, cannot be imputed to one as a crime, in the case of unblameable self-defence, why should theft be reckoned criminal by them, in the case of self-preservation? Besides, who imagines theft to be a crime when done without any malicious intention, nay without so much as any design to make profit by it? Finally, since persons in the meanest circumstances may easily, after they have extricated themselves out of their pinching straits, make reparation for the very small matter necessity can force them to take from another, who can make a crime of choosing to take a little from its lawful owner, that may be estimated and repaid, with a serious design to make reparation, so soon as it possibly can be done, rather than to perish? Add chap. 3. 10. of theft.
[‡ ] [[See preceding note.]]