Front Page Titles (by Subject) A DISCOURSE Upon the Nature and Origine of Moral and Civil Laws, &c. - A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
A DISCOURSE Upon the Nature and Origine of Moral and Civil Laws, &c. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
A DISCOURSE Upon the Nature and Origine of MoralandCivil Laws,&c.
It will be acknowledged that subjects of importance deserve to be set in various lights. Let us therefore endeavour to set the first principles of the science of laws in a light, which, if not altogether new, yet may perhaps prove more satisfactory to several understandings, than that in which they are more commonly represented. One great thing to be avoided in the first steps of a science, is dispute about words. And we think that it will contribute not a little to this good effect in the science we now propose to explain the first foundations of in the clearest manner we can, if, for some time, we only make use of terms well known to those who are in the least acquainted with natural philosophy, in the very sense they are used in that science.
What is called a law of nature by natural philosophers.Natural Philosophy is defined to be the science of the laws, according to which nature operates in producing its effects, and to which human art must conform in order to produce certain effects. And the settled methods, according to which nature works, and human arts must work, in order to produce certain effects, are called laws of nature. An example or two will shew the truth and justness of these definitions. That part of natural philosophy, which is properly called mechanics, consists in shewing the laws of motion, and what it is in particular that constitutes the quantity of motion in a body, and in deducing from thence certain rules to be observed by human art in the contrivance of machines, in order to give them a certain useful force. And this connexion in nature is found to be the principle of mechanics, or the rule according to which machines for raising weights, or overcoming obstacles, must be constructed, viz. That the moment of a body being its quantity of matter inducted into its velocity, any other body, however short of another in quantity of matter, will be rendered equal to it in moment, by adding to the less heavy body, just as much more in velocity as it wants of the heavier in quantity of matter. For this plain reason, that because if a body have a quantity of matter, as four, and a velocity as two, its force of motion or moment will be four multiplied by two; i.e. eight; and if another body have a quantity of matter, as two, and a velocity, as four, its force or moment will likewise be as two multiplied by four; that is, as eight; i.e. the two will be equal in moment. This principle is therefore called the law of mechanic powers, or the law of nature, with respect to quantity of motion. And upon this principle are balances, levers, cranes, pullies, wedges, screws, and inclined planes constructed. And he who attempts to assist mankind in raising weights, or overcoming obstacles, upon any other principle besides this, attempts to make new laws in nature, and his aim will prove absurd and lost labour. In the same manner, optics is a science which shews the laws observed by nature in the reflexion and refraxion of light, and points out the way of assisting vision, and attaining to certain other optical ends, as magnifying, diminishing, or multiplying objects, &c. And the laws observed by nature in reflecting and refracting light, are the laws of this human art; the laws according to which it must work to answer these purposes.
What is called a law in moral philosophy.Now, in the same sense, that in these, and other parts of natural philosophy, certain settled methods, according to which nature operates, are laws to human arts; in the same sense must any other connexions in nature be laws to other human arts, or laws to other human actions, if they are the established means or orders, according to which certain other ends can only be attained by us. If therefore there are any other ends distinct from those called natural ends, or the ends of mechanical arts; which, to distinguish them from the latter, may properly be called moral ends; the established connexions in nature with regard to the attainment of these latter ends, will be, properly speaking, the connexions which constitute means to moral ends; and the science of these means and ends will be properly called moral philosophy. And this philosophy will naturally divide itself into the same parts as natural philosophy does; i.e. into the part which investigates the connexions or laws of nature, and reduces effects into them; and the part which shews how certain ends may be attained by human art or action, in consequence of the settled laws of nature; the first of which is justly denominated a theoretical, and the other a practical science. So that as there are two parts in natural philosophy, one of which rests in the explication of phaenomena, by reducing them into laws of nature already found out by induction from experiments; and the other of which directs human labour in pursuing ends for the conveniency or ornament of life; in like manner, there are two parts of moral philosophy, one of which is employed in investigating by experiments the laws according to which phaenomena of the moral kind are produced, and in reducing other phaenomena into these laws so ascertained; and the other consists in deducing rules for human conduct in the pursuit of certain moral ends from the established connexions and laws of nature relative to them.
What is meant by moral ends and means.It cannot be said, that we here take it for granted, without any proof, that there are moral ends and means; for in the sense we have hitherto used moral, we have taken nothing for granted, but that there are certain phaenomena or certain ends and means, which are distinct from those commonly called natural, physical, or mechanical. And hardly will it be called into question, that there are phaenomena, and means and ends, which do not fall within the definition of those which are the object of natural philosophy. Who will deny that there are phaenomena, means and ends relative to our understanding and temper; relative to progress in knowledge, to the acquisition of habits, to constitution of civil society, and many other such like effects, which do not all belong to what is properly called natural philosophy? In short, none will say that the regulation of our affections and actions, in order to promote our own happiness, or the common happiness of mankind, is not an end quite distinct from that proposed in physics. And this being granted, we have gained all we plead for at present, which is, that if there be other ends, for attaining to which there are established means by nature, besides those considered in natural philosophy, such as the regulation of our inward affections, &c; these may be called moral ends, to distinguish them from the objects of natural philosophy. And by whatever name they are called, they are a very proper subject of enquiry for man. For it must be granted in general, to be a very proper sub-ject of human study, to enquire into all the good ends within human power, and into the established means, in order to the attainment of them. And all such establishments or connexions in nature, are, with regard to men, principles or laws, according to which they must act, if they would attain to certain ends; no end, of whatever kind, being otherwise attainable by us, than as it is the effect of certain means, or as there are certain laws constituting a certain order of operation, according to which it may be attained. All such connexions are therefore in the same sense laws of nature; and do no otherwise differ from one another, but as their respective distinct ends, physical and moral, differ. Let not, however, what hath been said be understood as if the laws of nature, with regard to the attainments of moral ends, had not a title to be called moral laws in another peculiar sense, which cannot belong to any other laws of nature. For we shall by and by see that they have. But if what hath been said be true, whatever other titles the laws of nature relative to moral ends, may, or may not deserve, it is certain that these laws highly merit our attention. And the following general conclusion, with regard to us, must, in consequence of what hath been premised, be incontrovertible.
The frame and constitution of man is a natural law to him.That the frame and constitution of man, and the connexions of things relative to him and his actions; i.e. in one word, the natural consequences of human affections and actions within and without man, are a natural law to man. They limit, fix or settle the effects of his behaviour and conduct; they shew what are the different results of different manners of acting; and so determine what must be done to get certain goods, and what must be done, or not done, to avoid certain evils. And man can no more alter these connexions of things, than he can alter the connexions upon which mechanical arts depend.
Now hence it follows, 1. That it is necessary for man to enquire into these connexions of things upon which his good or evil, his enjoyment or suffering, his happiness or misery depend, in order to attain to any goods. And, 2. That it is necessary for him to regulate his actions according to these connexions, in order to attain to any goods. And therefore these two may be called the primary laws of our nature: viz. the necessity we are in of knowing the connexions relative to our happiness and misery, and the necessity we are in of acting conformably to these connexions, in order to have pleasure and avoid pain. We may, if we will, call the necessary determination of every being capable of distinguishing pain from pleasure to pursue the one and avoid the other, the first law of nature. But it is more properly a determination essential to and inseparable from every reflecting being, and that which constitutes the necessity of its attending to the connexions of things relative to its happiness and misery, than a law or rule relative to the means of its happiness. The two first things therefore that offer themselves to our consideration with regard to beings capable of attaining to any goods, or of bringing any evils on themselves by their actions, are the necessity of understanding the connexions established by nature with regard to the effects or consequences of their actions, and the necessity of regulating their actions according to these fixed connexions.
Whence this law is learned, and whence it comes.Now that all connexions of nature, of whatever kind, whether those respecting matter and motion, and mechanical powers and arts, or those respecting the consequences of our affections and actions, can only be learned from experience, by attention to the effects of different methods of operation, is too evident to be insisted upon. And therefore we shall only add upon this head, that as when speaking of the laws of nature, which are the object of natural philosophy, tho’ they are shortly called laws of matter and motion; yet by them is really meant constitutions and connexions established and taking place in consequence of the will of the Author of nature: so the moment we have found out any connexions relative to happiness or misery with regard to human affections and actions, we have found certain constitutions or connexions relative to them, established and taking place by virtue of the will and appointment of the Author of nature; so that tho’, speaking shortly, we call them natural laws, or moral laws of nature, yet in reality by them must be meant rules, laws or connexions of the Author of nature. For this must be true in general, that certain setled and fixed orders and connexions of things can only take place by virtue of the will of some mind sufficient to give them subsistence and efficiency. Laws, whether in physics or in morals, can only mean certain appointments by the will of the mind who gave being to the world, and by whom it subsists. If by laws the appointments of some supreme Being be not meant, they are words without any meaning. So that we may henceforth indifferently say, either the connexions of things relative to man, the laws of nature relative to moral ends attainable by man, or the law and will of the Author of nature with regard to the consequences and effects of human conduct. This we may certainly do without begging any thing in morality which we have not proved, since natural philosophers use or may use these phrases promiscuously; and we as yet only desire to be allowed to use those phrases in the same sense they are used by natural philosophers, when they speak of means and ends, or connexions in nature, according to which effects are produced, and human arts must operate in order to be successful.
May we not now therefore go on to enquire, if we can find out any of the more important connexions in nature relative to our good or happiness, which are the laws of our nature, or the laws of the Author of nature with regard to our conduct, that may be called moral laws, or laws relative to moral ends.
Every being is constituted capable of a particular happiness, by the particular affections belonging to its nature.In order to this, it is plain we must enquire what affections belong to our nature. For nothing can be more evident, than that without particular affections no object could give us more pleasure than another, or to speak more properly, nothing could give us pleasure or pain: And the happiness of any one particular nature can only be the happiness or good of that particular nature. The happiness of an insect, for example, can only make an insect happy: Another nature, that is, a nature consisting of other affections, will require other objects to make it happy; that is, objects adjusted to the gratification of its particular affections. These things are very evident: For tho’ after having experienced several particular pains and pleasures, we can form to ourselves a general idea of happiness, and a general idea of misery, which ideas will excite a general desire of happiness, yet there is no such thing in nature as general gratification to general desire of happiness. Every pleasure is a particular pleasure; a particular gratification to some particular affection. We may be properly said to desire happiness in general; but every gratification we meet with, is a gratification to some one particular appetite or affection in our nature. As our eyes are said to be so formed as to receive pleasure from colours; but yet it is always some particular colour or mixture of colours that gives us that pleasure we call pleasure arising from colours; so it is with regard to all other pleasures. We may class pleasures under different general names, and say very intelligibly, we would have pleasure of such a sort; but in order to have our longing satisfied, some particular object must be applied to satisfy it: Or we may say more generally, we would have pleasure without fixing so much as upon a general class of pleasures, as pleasures of sight, of hearing, of smell, &c. But still it must be some particular object, suited to some particular affection, or particular sense of pleasure in our nature, that satisfies us in this undetermined longing or restlessness of the mind. In fine, however much philosophers talk of a general desire of happiness, and of our being actuated by this desire, which is properly called self-love, in all our pursuits; yet it is particular objects, adjusted to certain particular affections in our nature, that constitute our happiness. And it is only by gratifying some one of these particular affections that we can have pleasure. Nor is it less evident that all our particular affections rest each in its object. “The very nature of affection (says an excellent writer)1 consists in tending towards, and resting on its objects as an end. We do indeed often in common language say, that things are loved, desired, esteemed, not for themselves, but for somewhat further, somewhat out of and beyond them; yet in these cases, whoever will attend, will see that these things are not in reality the objects of the affections, i.e. are not loved, desired, esteemed, but the somewhat further out of and beyond them. If we have no affections which rest in what are called their objects, then what is called affection, love, desire, hope, in human nature, is only an uneasiness in being at rest, an unquiet disposition to action, progress and pursuit, without end or meaning. But if there be any such thing as delight in the company of one person rather than of another, whether in the way of friendship, or mirth and entertainment, it is all one, if it be without respect to fortune, honour, or increasing our stores of knowledge, or any thing beyond the present time; here is an instance, of an affection absolutely resting in its object as its end, and being gratified in the same way as the appetite of hunger is satisfied with food. Yet nothing is more common than to hear it asked, what advantage a man hath in such a course, suppose of study, particular friendships, or in any other; nothing, I say is more common, than to hear such a question put, in a way which supposes no gain, advantage, or interest, but as a means to somewhat further: And if so, then there is no such thing at all as a real interest, gain or advantage. This is the same absurdity with respect to life, as an infinite series of effects without a cause is in speculation. The gain, advantage or interest consists in the delight itself arising from such a faculty’s having its object: Neither is there any such thing as happiness or enjoyment but what arises from hence. The pleasures of hope and of reflexion are not exceptions. The former being only this happiness anticipated, the latter the same happiness enjoyed over again after its time. Self-love, or a general desire of happiness, is inseparable from all sensible creatures, who can reflect upon themselves, and their own interest or happiness, so as to make that interest an object to their minds. But self-love does not constitute this or that to be our interest or good; but our interest or good being constituted by nature, and supposed, self-love only puts upon gaining, or making use of those objects which are by nature adapted to afford us satisfaction. Happiness or satisfaction consists only in the enjoyment of those objects, which are by nature suited to our several particular appetites, passions and affections. And there is therefore a distinction between the cool principle of self-love, or general desire of our own happiness, as one part of our nature, and one principle of action, and the particular affections towards particular objects as another part of our nature, and another principle of action, without which there could be absolutely no such thing at all as happiness or enjoyment of any kind whatsoever.” From all which it follows, 1. That it is absurd to speak of self-love as engrossing the whole of our nature, and making the sole principle of action. And, 2. That in order to know what we ought to pursue, or what happiness we are capable of, it is absolutely necessary to know our particular affections which constitute our capacities of enjoyment or happiness, and the objects adapted by nature to them.
But why we have insisted so long on this observation, will appear when we come to mention several of our particular affections and their objects.
The particular affections belonging to human nature.Now, if we attend to ourselves, we shall find that we have affections of various kinds. 1. Affections to several sensible objects, adapted by nature to give us pleasure, which may be called sensitive appetites, some of which are absolutely necessary to put us upon pursuits requisite to our sustenance, or the support and preservation of our bodily frame, such as hunger and thirst, &c: and others which are not so necessary to that end, but are given us to be capacities of enjoyment, such as the pleasures we receive from light and colours by the eyes, and from sounds by the ear, &c. About these affections there is no dispute. 2. But these are not the only affections belonging to our nature. We have other affections which are called intellectual: such as, a capacity of receiving pleasure by the discernment of the relations of ideas or things by our understanding or reason, properly called the perception of truth, or knowledge; a taste or sense of beauty, which may be defined to be that agreeable percep-tion which objects that have uniformity amidst variety or regularity and unity of design, are adapted to afford us, &c. And, 3. Besides these there is yet another class of affections, which may be justly called social. Inclination to union and society, delight in the happiness of others, compassion toward the distressed or suffering, resentment against injustice or wrong, love of esteem or good reputation, desire of power to help and assist others, gratitude to benefactors, desire of friendship, and several other such like, which have some things in our fellow creatures for their objects. I do not pretend that this is a full enumeration of all the particular affections belonging to human nature. Some others shall be mentioned afterwards. But I am apt to think the principal affections constituting our nature, or our capacities of gratification and enjoyment, will be found to be reducible into one of these three classes. And let me observe with regard to them, before we go further, 1. That the greater part of these affections rest in some external object, and may therefore properly be said to have something without ourselves for their object, towards which they tend. As hunger hath food for its object, so hath the love of arts, arts for its object, and the love of reputation, reputation for its object; and as none of these objects is more or less external than another, and none of these affections is more or less distinct from self-love, or the general desire of happiness, than another; so benevolence, or delight in the good of another, hath an object which is neither more nor less external than the objects of those other above-named affections; and is an affection which is neither more nor less distinct from self-love than these other affections. And therefore all the grave perplexity with which moral writings have been tortured with respect to the interestedness and disinterestedness of certain affections, might as well have been objected against any other affections as against those, the reality of which it hath been thought sufficient to explode, to say, that if they are allowed to take place in our frame, then would there be a disinterested principle of action in the nature of a being, which like every sensible being, can only be moved by self-love, or regard to itself, which is absurd. It is sufficient to evince the impertinence and absurdity of this jangling, to shew that by the same argument it may be proved, that we have no affections which tend towards and rest in external objects. And yet it is certain, that had we not particular affections towards external objects, there could absolutely be no such thing as happiness at all, or enjoyment of any kind. If by saying that all our affections must be interested, and that none of them can be disinterested, be meant that they are our own affections, and that the gratifications they afford us are gratifications to ourselves, our own pleasures, or our own perceptions, then are all our affections in that sense equally interested; they are all equally our own, for they are all equally felt by ourselves. But if by saying none of our affections are or can be disinterested, be meant, that none of our affections can tend towards, or rest in an external object: This is to say, not merely that the good of others cannot be the object of any affection in our nature; but to say that nothing without us can be the object of our desire, whether animate or inanimate, which none will assert. This I mention, because all the arguments brought by certain philosophers against a principle of benevolence in our nature, turn upon an imagined contrariety between such a principle and self-love, as a principle of action. But, 2. It is in the gratifications of these particular affections in our nature, that the greater part of the enjoyments of which we are made capable by nature consists. And therefore, if we would know the laws or connexions of nature with regard to our happiness, we must know the establish-ed laws or connexions of nature with regard to these affections, and the objects adapted to them. That is, we must know in what manner and to what degree they give pleasure to us; what are the consequences of indulging any one of them too little or too much; the several tones and proportions nature hath prescribed to them, by fixing the boundaries of pain and pleasure; their relations one to another; their agreements or disagreements; their jarrings and interferings, or coalitions and mixtures; and, in one word, as many of their effects and consequences in different circumstances of action, as we can observe, in order to know how to regulate them, so as to have the greatest pleasure and the least pain we can. The rules of our conduct, in order to have happiness, can only be deduced from the laws or rules, according to which, in consequence of the frame and constitution of our minds, and the relations we stand in to external objects, our particular affections operate, or are operated upon by objects, or by one another.
It is the business of reason to know the nature of our affections, their objects, and the manner and consequences of their various operations.Now, it is the business of our reason to find out these rules or laws of nature, and the rules of conduct which they indicate or point out to us. Reason is as plainly given us for this purpose, as our eyes are given us for seeing. It is the eye of the mind which is to look out for us in order to direct our paths, i.e. to discover what we ought to pursue, and what we ought to avoid. It must be given us for this purpose. And if we do not exercise it to this purpose, it is of no use to us. It cannot be owned to be implanted in us, without owning that it is the intention of nature that it should be exercised by us as our guide and director. Nor is there indeed any other way by which beings can be guided, who have reason to discover how they ought to regulate their affections and actions, that is, how their happiness requires that they should regulate them, besides their reason. Their nature admits of no other guidance. For in this does the difference consist between them and other beings, which have no reflecting or guiding principle, but are led by mere impulse toward an end, without foresight, intention or choice, that they have the direction of themselves; and being endued with a principle of observation and reflexion, are left to its guidance. Beings without reason are directed, or rather driven by particular affections excited in their minds to pursuits, which can in no sense be called their pursuits, but are properly the pursuits of the principle by which their affections are excited in them. But beings who have a reflecting and guiding principle in them, are so constituted that they may and must guide themselves; and therefore their particular affections must necessarily be considered as subjected by their frame to their guiding principle as such. Their directing principle must be considered as the superior and chief principle in them, and that to which the direction, the rule, command or guidance of all their particular affections, is committed by nature. And indeed, if we attend to our own minds, we shall find, 1. That our reason claims a superiority to itself, and talks to us (if I may so speak) with the authority of a law-giver or ruler. It often, whether we will or will not, takes to itself the power and authority of a judge, a censor, and pronounces sentence upon our conduct. And, 2. We are so framed that our greatest inward satisfaction depends upon the approbation of our reason, or our consciousness of our acting by its direction, and in conformity to its rules. Nothing gives us so much torment as the consciousness of despised and contradicted reason: and no pleasure is equal to that the mind feels when reason approves its conduct. The approbation with which a mind, conscious of its habitually giving the autho-rity due to its guiding principle in the government of its affections and actions, applauds itself, is sincere and abiding satisfaction. So are we made: And therefore,
The first law of nature with regard to our conduct, is to maintain reason in our mind as our guiding principle.The first law of nature with regard to our conduct, is to maintain reason in our mind as our governing principle over all our affections and pursuits. It was said before (§3), that we are under a necessity of knowing the connexions relative to our happiness, in order to conform our conduct to them, and under a necessity of conforming our conduct to them in order to be happy. And we have just now seen what that principle is which is given us by nature, both to discover the connexions relative to our happiness, and to conform our conduct to them. Whence it follows, that according to our frame, we can neither be sure of avoiding evil, nor attaining to good, unless reason be our steady ruler; which implies two things. 1. That we be at due pains to know the connexions relative to our happiness, and to lay up this knowledge in our minds, in order to have counsel at hand upon every emergency: in order not to be surprized, and to have our directory to seek, when occasion calls upon us immediately to determine and act. And, 2. To accustom our particular affections to submit to, and receive their commands from our reason; not to sally forth at random upon every invitation offered to them by objects, but to await the decision of our reason, and to obey it. The first is the hability or sufficiency of reason to direct. The other is its actual command. And that reason may be very well informed, and consequently very well qualified to direct us, and yet not be actually our ruler and commander, but a slave to our headstrong passions, is too evident to experience to be denied. Nor is any one who hath ever given any attention to his own mind, a stranger to the only way in which rea-son can become our habitual ruler and guide, and our affections become habitually subject to its government, which is the habitual accustomance or inurance of our appetites, affections and passions, to receive their orders from our reason, or the habitual upholding of our reason in the exercise of directing all our pursuits. And indeed to what purpose can the knowledge qualifying reason to direct our affections serve, but to upbraid us, if reason be not actually our habitual director; if our passions are quite tumultuous and undisciplined, and reason hath no power over them, to restrain, direct, or govern them? This therefore is the first law of nature pointed out by our constitution, and the necessity of nature, even to set up and maintain our reason as our governing or directing principle. Till this be done we are not masters of ourselves; and however well any one’s affections may happen to operate, in consequence of a particular happiness of constitution, or in consequence of his necessary submission to others upon whom he depends, none can have a title to the character of rational, but in proportion as his own reason is his director and ruler; in proportion as his passions are submitted to reason, and he acts in obedience to its authority. But this rational temper may be called by different names, as it is considered in different views. It is prudence, as it discerns the connexions relative to our happiness, and the rules of our conduct resulting from thence. It is virtue or strength of mind, as it enables one to hold his passions in due discipline and subjection, and to act as prudence directs. It is self-love, as it is firm and steady adherence to the rules of happiness. It is self-command, as it is empire over ourselves, dominion over our affections and actions, all our choices and pursuits. And it is health or soundness of mind, as thus all our affections and appetites are in their regular, na-tural and proper order, i.e. duly submitted to the principle to which the authority of guiding them is due. It is indeed the whole of virtue, human excellence or duty, as this empire being once obtained, all must go right; every affection will be duly obedient to the principle that ought to govern; and thus the mind will be conscious to itself of inward order and harmony, and of being in the state it ought to be in: for no other general definition of human excellence or duty can be given, but acting conformably to reason. But still it remains to be enquired what general rules for our conduct reason discovers to us.
It ought to be the end of education to produce the patience of thinking, or the government of reason.We may however observe, before we go farther, 1. That unless the mind be early rendered of a temper for thinking and enquiring about the proper rules of conduct, it will not set itself to find them out, but will give up the reins to its affections, and be tossed to and fro by them in a most desultory irregular manner; and the longer this unthinking way of living takes place, the more difficult will it be to recover the mind from the tyranny of its passions, and to establish reason into its due authority and command over them. And therefore the great end of education ought to be to produce the love and patience of thinking; to establish the deliberative disposition and temper, or the habit of consulting reason, and weighing things maturely before one chooses and determines. This is the chief end of education. And if one be not obliged to wise education for this happy temper of mind, it seldom happens that one ever attains to it, till he is awakened and roused to think, by some great suffering brought upon himself, by his not having exercised his reason, but suffered his passions and appetites to drive him whithersoever they listed. The reason is, that by repeated acts, habits are formed, which it is exceeding difficult to undo, and which cannot be undone but by the strong opposition of reason. And therefore, if the habit of ruling ourselves by reason, be not early formed in us by right education, the habit of indulging every passion and appetite that assails us, and of living without exercising our reason, must soon become too fixed, settled and inveterate to be easily conquered. It is fit, highly fit, nay absolutely necessary for us, that the law of habits should take place in our constitution. Yet this must be the effect of it, that unless great care be taken, by proper education and discipline, early to form the reflecting and considering habit, in young minds, which is to establish the government of reason in them, it must be extremely difficult for us ever to become reasonable creatures, or to attain to self-command, and to establish our reason as our ruler and guide, in the room of appetite, humour and passion. Mr. Locke hath made admirable observations on this subject, in his excellent treatise of education.2
When this temper is formed, happiness and duty are easily discovered.But, 2. When the love and patience of thinking are once attained, and the sedate, deliberative temper is fairly established, it is then very easy to find out the proper rules of action, or what is the most eligible course of life and behaviour, and how the affections ought to be governed. The affections then range themselves, as it were, spontaneously into good order. The understanding is then clear and undisturbed, and duty is easily discerned. Whatever difficulty reason may find in establishing its authority, it is no sooner fixed and settled in the mind, as the ruling and commanding principle, than the rules which ought to be observed in conduct are immediately discovered. True happiness is then immediately felt to consist chiefly in the very consciousness of this temper, in the consciousness of reason’s having this sway within us. And when this is looked upon to be the chief part of happiness, the chief part of our happiness is then something dependent upon ourselves, which nothing can deprive us of, while reason presides and rules in our breast. A source of inward consolation, far superior to all other enjoyments, and which is as steady as all other things are uncertain, is thus discovered. And the mind, which hath once fixed upon this as its main good, will be proof against all the most specious appearances of pleasures, till their pretentions have been examined, and their consistency with this chief principle of happiness hath been duly considered; and will therefore be a calm and impartial judge of what pleasures it may allow itself, and of what it ought not to give indulgence to. But if the mind be calm and unbiassed, and resolved to act the part that shall appear wisest and best upon due attention to the laws of nature fixing the connexions relative to our happiness, the whole difficulty is over. Till then it is not capable of judging; but when that point is gained, it is very easy to judge right. In every case, not to judge, but to be fit to judge, is the difficult part. The first thing therefore that our frame and constitution points out to us as the law of our conduct, is to take care to establish reason in our mind, as the ruler, without consulting which we will not allow our passions to indulge themselves, and the dictates of which we are resolved steadily to obey, that we may always enjoy that delightful consciousness of having been guided by our reason, which is by our make the greatest of all enjoyments. But to this education ought, and must contribute; otherwise the establishment of this excellent temper, in proportion to the prevalence of which one is more or less a reasonable being, must be a very difficult, a very hard task; and to assist in conquering the contrary habit, distress and suffering will be necessary. And why should we not look upon the evils that are brought upon ourselves by thoughtlessness, folly, or, in one word, by not governing ourselves by reason, to be intended chiefly for this very end; even to awaken, rouze, and excite us to think, by making us feel the necessity of exercising our reason, and obeying it, instead of indulging every appetite that assails us, without considering the consequences of living in such an irrational manner! For this is self-evident, that were not agents placed in a state where certain manners of acting produce good, and others evil, there would in such a state be no place for choice and agency; for prudence and imprudence; nor consequently, for reason and self-approbation. And therefore to the existence of the highest rank of created beings, it is necessary that certain methods of acting be attended with evil consequences. For tho’ we may, by adding more and more to our own active powers, conceive various species of created agents above us, till we rise in our contemplation to the Supreme Being, in whom all perfections meet, and are united in their highest degree; yet we can conceive no order of beings above mere passive ones, without conceiving them to be disposers of their own actions by their reason, understanding and choice: And as for more or less, i.e. a larger or lesser sphere of activity, here the known rule takes place, That more and less do not alter the species. If any one should ask what the proper method of education is in order to produce the reasonable thinking temper? it is sufficient to answer here, that the chief business is to accustom youth early to examine the associations of ideas in their minds, and to consider whether these associations be founded in, and agreeable to nature, or not; which ought to be the unintermitted exercise during life of every one who would maintain the empire of his reason. But because this would lead me into a digression, or rather into a subject, for which we have not yet sufficiently prepared the way, we shall only refer those who ask this question to the above mentioned treatise of Mr. Locke, and go on to take notice of some particular laws of our conduct, pointed out to us by the make of the human mind, and the circumstances in which we are placed by the Author of nature.
The first particular law which appears to those who consider the nature and circumstances of mankind is the law of industry.The pleasures we are capable of, are gratifications to our particular affections, the principal of which have been named (§6); for hardly can any enjoyment we are susceptible of, be specified, which is not a gratification of one or other of these outward or inward faculties or senses of pleasure. Our pleasures may therefore be divided into two classes; the goods of the body, and the goods of the mind. For all our affections, all our senses of pleasure, either have some sensitive, or some intellectual and moral gratification for their objects. Gratification to our eyes, our ears, our touch, and our other organs of sense, are bodily gratifications. Gratifications to our discernment of truth, and our delight in it; to our taste of beauty and harmony and delight in it; to our public sense, or our delight in the happiness of others, &c. are gratifications to capacities, senses of pleasure, or affections, which, to distinguish them from those afforded by corporeal objects to our sensitive organs, may be called intellectual or moral, or goods of the mind. But however the goods or pleasures we are capable of be divided or classed, this is certain, with regard to them all, that they are made to be the purchase of our activity or industry to have them; they do not drop into the mouth (if we may so speak) of the sluggard; but we must exert ourselves to attain to them. As we cannot otherwise have the pleasures of sense, or the goods of the body; so no more can we, without industry and application, have the pleasures of knowledge, refined taste, benevolence, &c. And hence that antient observation concern-ing the government or frame of the world with respect to man; θεοι τἀγαθα τοὴς πονοις πολοῦνται. God or nature sells all to industry.3 This truth is so plain to daily experience, that we need not stay to prove it. But from this general law of nature arises a law to us, viz. the law of industry; or the necessity of our activity, application or industry, in order to attain to any goods. And if we will reflect a little upon our minds, we shall find, that as no goods can be attained by us, but by exerting ourselves actively to have them; so activity or exercise is necessary to our happiness in another sense, i.e. immediately, or in itself. The mind of man is made for exercise, exercise is its natural pleasure. It is of a restless temper, and must be employed. If it is not, it preys upon, and consumes itself. Nor is exercise less necessary to the health, soundness, vigour, and agreeable feeling of the body, than employment is to the strength, agility, soundness, and pleasant state of the mind. We need not insist long to prove this; for daily experience shews, that as it happens among mankind, that whilst some are by necessity confined to labour, others are provided with abundance of things by the industry and labour of others; so if, among the superior and easy sort, who are thus relieved from bodily drudgery, there be not something of fit and proper employment raised in the room of what is wanting in common labour; if, instead of an application to any sort of work, such as hath an useful end in society (as letters, sciences, arts, husbandry, public affairs, &c.) there be a thorough neglect of all study or employment, a settled idleness, supineness and inactivity; this does of necessity occasion a most uneasy, as well as disorderly state of mind; a total dissolution of its natural vigour, which ends in peevishness, discontent, and sickly nauseating at life, and all its enjoyments. So necessary is some employment to the mind, that to supply exercise to it, many strange amusements and unaccountable occupations for time, thought, and passion have been invented by those, whom fortune hath rescued from drudgery to their backs and bellies, but good education hath not directed into proper pursuits and employments, which are their only security against utter discontent with themselves, and every thing about them, amidst the greatest abundance. Such strange occupations are their sole relief. But they are such only as they are some exercise to the mind, and prevent that languishing, fretting and nauseating, which total supineness and ease produces. And how feeble a security they are against the misery, which employment more suited to a mind capable of higher pursuits would absolutely prevent, is plain from the many bitter, sickly, discontented moments the men of pleasure, as they are absurdly called, cannot, by all their amusements, escape, compared with the equable contentedness of an honest daily labourer, conscious of the usefulness of his toil; not to mention the sedate, uniform satisfaction and cheerfulness of one, who having qualified himself for it, divides (as Scipio is said to have done) his time between elegant studies and public services to his country. The mind of man must have exercise and employment. Exercise itself is agreeable, and it is absolutely necessary to relief from the greatest of uneasinesses. And no goods can be attained without application and industry. If one would preserve his health and relish for sensitive pleasures, he must exercise his body. And if he would have the pleasures of knowledge, of refined imagination and good taste, the pleasures of power and authority, or the pleasures of benevolence and doing good, he must be diligent in the culture of his moral powers, and be ever intent upon some truly useful pursuit. If these ends do not employ him, he must either find other pursuits for himself, or he will be exceedingly unhappy. But what other pursuits can one devise to himself besides those of which he can say any thing better, than that they employ his mind, and keep time from hanging upon his hands, as the phrase is, or, more properly speaking, murder it? Can he name any other besides those that bear any congruity to the more noble and distinguishing powers and affections of the human mind? or that he can depend upon for steady and uncloying satisfaction? any other that can be re-enjoyed by reflection? any other that will stand a cool and serious review and examination?
But that I may not be thought to proceed too fast in my conclusions, and to have determined concerning the comparative value of pursuits too hastily, all I desire to have concluded at present, is, that according to the constitution of the human mind, and in consequence of the natural state of things, no goods, no enjoyments can be procured by us without application and industry, and that we are made to be busied and employed for exercise, or to be engaged in some pursuit. The greatest abundance of outward things, tho’ it relieves from certain toils, to which the necessities of life subject others; yet it does not, it cannot make one happy, if, in the room of the pursuits from which it delivers him, he do not find out some other satisfactory pursuit or employment for himself. Under this necessity hath nature laid us; nay, properly speaking, this necessity constitutes our dignity above inactive, or merely passive creatures, as free agents. For it is implied in the very notion of agency. One cannot otherwise be an agent, than as he is made to procure his happiness to himself by the active application of his powers in the pursuit of goods within his reach, if laboured for according to the way nature hath fixed and chalked out for attaining to them. And as the pleasure of considering goods as one’s own acquisition, is a pleasure that a being must be so framed to have; so this is a very high satisfaction, and an excellent natural reward to industry. How insipid are the satisfactions in which this is not an ingredient, in comparison of those which one owes to his own skill, prudence and industry, and in which he therefore triumphs as his own purchase, his own conquest, the product of his own abilities and virtues! ’Tis only beings so framed as that they must work out their own happiness, who can be capable of self-approbation. And who doth not feel the difference with which one reflects on the goods which are not of his own procurance to himself, such as beauty and the advantages of birth, for instance, and those accomplishments which he can vindicate to himself as his own proper purchase? And where self-approbation can take place, there only can good desert, with regard to others, take place; or can there be any foundation for praise and esteem from others, without which, how dull and insipid would life be? This is the general voice of mankind.
Thus far then are we advanced in finding out the connexions or laws of nature with regard to our happiness. We are made to work out our own happiness by our industry; we are made for activity and exercise. But how ought our industry to be directed, in consequence of what hath been observed concerning the presidence which reason ought to have in our minds (§8)? Must not the objects of our industry be chosen by reason, and all our exercises directed by it, in order to our having the satisfaction of reflecting upon our exercise as conformable to reason; and that it may be agreeable to the connexions of nature relative to our happiness; and so prove neither vain nor hurtful but turn to good account, and not produce repentance and suf-fering for having mistaken our end, and misapplied our labour and diligence; but contentment with ourselves for having acted with prudence, by the direction of reason for an approveable end, and in the proper manner for attaining that end. This therefore is one characteristic of our proper happiness, that it consists in a course of industry to attain ends which reason approves, under the direction and guidance of reason, as to the use of means.
The second particular law that appears from the consideration of human nature, and the circumstances in which man-kind are placed, is the law of sociality.But another special characteristic of our proper pursuits, in consequence of our frame, and the connexions of nature relative to our happiness, will immediately appear, if we reflect how strictly mankind are bound together; by how many close ties and dependencies they are cemented; ties arising from mutual wants, and ties arising from certain affections common to mankind, exactly corresponding to their mutual wants. First of all, it is evident, that we can attain to no goods of whatever kind, external or internal, by our single industry, or without social assistances. Nothing can be more manifest than this. 2. Nor is it less evident, that there is no enjoyment, of which mankind are capable, which does not, as our excellent poet very happily expresses it, Some may lean and hearken to our kind.5 If we separate communication and participation from all our pleasures of whatever kind, we really abstract from them the main ingredient that gives them relish. Take all of the social kind away from sensitive gratifications, and what remains but mere allay to some raging appetite, mere relief from pain? And as for all our other pleasures, what are they but participation, or communicating and sharing with our fellow creatures? Such is the joy of relieving the distressed, or of promoting the happiness of the deserving. Such is a sense of merited esteem; such is gratitude to a benefactor; such is creating dependence upon us, &c. And as for knowledge, however pleasant it is in itself, yet is it not doubly agreeable, when considered as qualifying us to be useful, and as procuring us authority and regard? In short, the chief article in all our pleasures, in consequence of our make, consists in mutually giving and receiving; it is of a social kind. And we are formed, and placed as we are, that there might be variety of exercise to our social affections. Nature hath so framed us, that our chief happiness must be sought from communication and participation with others; and so placed us, that all such dependencies might arise as were necessary to gratify our social appetites and affections. This will more fully appear afterwards, when we come to consider some of the principal dependencies by which mankind are united and cemented together; which, tho’ they be objected against by narrow thinkers,6 will be found to be in reality so many proofs of nature’s kind care about us; or to make proper provision for the exercises, from which alone our social happiness, or gratification to our social affections can arise, since it must consist in mutual giving and receiving, which cannot take place but where there are mutual dependencies. Mean time, let it only be observed, 1. That such is the constitution of things with respect to mankind, that no man can attain to any considerable share of the goods either of the body or of the mind by his single endeavours; but he must, in order to that, engage many others to help and assist him: nay, such is the constitution of things, that no man can subsist in any convenient, not to say comfortable degree or manner, without receiving many services and good offices from others. Mankind are therefore, by the necessity of nature, obliged to seek mutual assistances from one another, to unite together, and to com-municate their industry. But, 2. Mankind are so framed, that this union and communication is in itself as agreeable as it is necessary. Our best enjoyments are acts of social communication. Assisting, relieving, herding, concerting, confederating, and such like social dealings, are all of them in themselves most pleasing and agreeable exercises. So that there is something in them that rewards them, and invites to them independently of their necessity to our having any of the conveniencies or comforts of life. Need I stay to prove this to any one who hath ever felt any of the generous emotions and workings of the soul? or to any one who can reflect upon his having at any time done a good office? For nothing is more certain, than that it is only acts of compassion, humanity, friendship, gratitude, benevolence, that afford any considerable satisfaction to the mind upon reflexion; or that it is the generous mind alone that can reiterate its actions in its reflexion, memory, or conscience, (let it be called what you will) with thorough delight; and thus feast most agreeably upon them after they are past. Indeed so social is our make, that the highest entertainment even the poetic art or ingenious fictions can give us, is by exciting generous benevolent emotions in our minds, and deeply interesting us in the affairs of others. For of the satisfaction we receive in this way, which we so readily own to be preferable to any mere sensitive enjoyment, no other account can be given but this; “Homo sum, & nihil humanum a me alienum puto.”7 Whatever concerns man, tenderly interests every man in it, in consequence of the human make. We are therefore formed by nature for social exercises; for the pursuit of public good; for offices of benevolence or charity, and for uniting together in the interchange of various acts of kindness and sociality.
And thus there appears another character of the happiness and the employment or industry we are intended for by nature: It is industry beneficial to mankind, for which we are framed and intended: Industry proper to make human life as comfortable and agreeable as it can be rendered. For this is the industry or employment, which, in consequence of our social make, gives us the greatest pleasure. And this industry alone can give a satisfying account of itself to our reason. For this also is found to be true by experience, that no sooner is the idea of industry beneficial to mankind, or of activity to relieve mankind from as many pains, and to give them as much pleasure as we can; no sooner is this idea presented to our reflexion, than our mind is necessarily determined to approve of it, and pronounce it the best part, nay the only commendable, worthy part one can act. And therefore we have now attained to a very distinguishing characteristic of the pleasures we ought to pursue, i.e. of those which are made by nature of the highest, the most uncloying, satisfactory and durable relish to us, viz. exercises of our abilities or powers, which tend to promote the public good. If it is said that there is no reasoning in all this deduction, but simply appeal to experience: let me ask how we can prove any quality, affection or power to belong to us, or any sensation to be pleasant, but from experience? What are all the conclusions of natural philosophers, but inductions from experience, the experience of our senses? And is outward experience a proper proof of matters of outward experience; and inward experience not a proper proof of matters of inward experience? If it is objected, that experience proves that some men have high pleasure in acts of cruelty and malice: to this I answer, the gradual degeneracy of the mind into savageness and malignity, can be accounted for from the laws according to which social affections, and a moral or public sense are impaired and corrupted. But that any degree of this state of mind cannot be happiness, is plain, since where there is a total apostacy, an absolute degeneracy from all candour, equity and trust, sociableness or friendship, there is none who will not acknowledge the absolute misery of such a temper of mind. For sure here, as in other distempers, the calamity must of necessity keep pace and hold proportion with the disease, the corruption. It is impossible that it can be complete misery, to be absolutely immoral and inhumane, and not be proportionable misery or ill, to be so in any however so small a degree. And indeed, tho’ there were no considerable ill in any single exercise of inhumanity and unsociality, yet it must be contrary to interest, as it necessarily tends, in consequence of the structure of our minds, that is, the dependence of our affections, and the law of habits, to bring on the habitual temper, which is so readily owned by every one to be consummate misery, and to render incapable of any enjoyment, even amidst the most luxurious circumstances of sensitive gratification. But having insisted very fully on this subject in another treatise;8 and chiefly, because it is impossible to set the sociability of our nature in a clearer and stronger light than my Lord Shaftsbury has done, in his Essay on virtue,9 I shall only add, that if it be really true (as I think he has demonstrated) that, in consequence of the constitution of the human mind, and of the connexions relative to our happiness, the affections which work towards public good do likewise work towards the greatest good of every individual, then are we by a necessity of nature under obligation to be social, humane, and well affectioned towards our kind: And consequently, sociality is a law of nature to us. For this being the case, in it hath nature, whose constitutions we cannot alter, placed our chief happiness. But this general truth will be yet more evident, when we consider the particular dependencies by which mankind are strictly linked and tied together.
The natural and necessary dependence of mankind, points out to us the order in which our social affections ought to operate.Which we now proceed to point out, that we may shew the particular order in which nature at once impels and obliges us to exercise and gratify our social affections. Nature may, as we have already seen, be very properly said to oblige, or lay us under a necessity of regulating our affections and actions in the way that the constitution of our mind, and the circumstances in which we are placed, make necessary to our happiness. And nature may be said to impel us to exert our affections in the way in which they naturally tend to work or exert themselves. And if we attend to our affections, and the order in which they naturally tend to operate or exert themselves, we will find that it is that very order which our constitution and circumstances make necessary to our well being and happiness; so exactly are our constitution and our circumstances adapted the one to the other. It is plain that social affections could not have their proper exercises, except where many mutual dependencies take place; because giving and receiving, or communication, can not take place but where there are mutual wants. Now, our mutual wants and dependencies must be wants and dependencies either with respect to the goods of the body, or the goods of the mind. For all our goods, as hath been observed (§9), are reducible into these two classes: Wherefore, mutual wants and dependencies in these respects, are necessary to the exercises of our social affections, or to our social enjoyments. Take away from mankind all the exercises of social affection, and we reduce them into a state of mere indolence and inactivity, and leave nothing in human life to employ men agreeably, or actuate them warmly or strongly: We take away all that gives the highest relish to life, all its most touching and interesting exercises and employments. But if we take away the objects of af-fections or exercises, we to all intents and purposes destroy the affections themselves; for it is to all intents and purposes the same, whether they do not take place in a constitution, or taking place, have not objects to call them forth into action and employ them. The differences therefore which obtain among mankind, in consequence of the different talents, genius’s and temperatures of mind, or of different circumstances, necessarily occasioning different operations, various degrees and turns of the same powers and affections, do indeed serve to cement and unite mankind together, and to produce a constitution of things, in which alone our social affections can have various proper exercises; a constitution of things, in which alone various social enjoyments can take place. And therefore, with regard to us,
All nature’s diff’rence keeps all nature’s peace.10
Several of these dependencies, and the affections corresponding to them explained.This will be evident, if we but consider what the affections and employments are which give us social enjoyment. For how can benevolence, love of power, compassion, charity, gratitude, or any other affection, which hath the qualities, conditions, and actions of others for their objects, take place but where wants are supplied, dependence is created, happiness is given; or where beings can mutually gratify one another in various manners, by mutually adding to one another’s happiness and enjoyment, or alleviating one another’s pains? But it will still be more evident, when we consider the dependencies which actually obtain among mankind, and the affections in human nature, corresponding to these dependencies. Now, 1. In general, to the very support of our bodies, many labours are necessary, and consequently, various communications of labour: nor are various united labours less necessary to our having the pleasures which arise from knowledge, and the improvements of the understanding and ima-gination. These two facts are too evident to stand in need of any proof. And in order to our having enjoyments of both these kinds by united labours, mankind are endued with various talents, various genius’s and turns of mind. Some are fitted for one kind of labour and employment, and some for another. Every one stands in need of many, and every one is peculiarly adapted by nature to assist the rest in some particular way. It is in order to promote a general commerce among mankind, that through the whole globe, the habitation of mankind, every climate, every country, produces something peculiar to it, which is necessary to the greater convenience, or at least to the greater comfort and ornament of the inhabitants in every other. So in every country, throughout all mankind in general, there prevails a division of talents, genius’s and abilities, which makes every one necessary in a particular way to the general good, or at least renders every one capable of contributing something towards general happiness, by the application of his talents in their proper way, or to the end for which they are peculiarly adapted. And indeed in the narrowest view we can take of human happiness, that is, even when we confine it to our bodily subsistence, to eating, drinking, protection against the injuries of weather, and such other conveniencies, which will be readily acknowledged not to be all that mankind are qualified to have and enjoy, even tho’ we should quite abstract from the higher pursuits of understanding and imagination, in the improvements of arts and sciences, from every thing that comes under the notion of ornament, elegancy or grandeur; yet even in this confined view, many labours, various industry is necessary. And consequently, men are laid by a necessity of nature under obligation mutually to engage one another, to unite their labours, and communicate their industry for one another’s subsistence. But as men would have but very little pleasure in labour, and the communications of their industry which are necessary to their subsistence, were not exercise, as hath been observed (§9), naturally agreeable to men, and were we not so constituted as to have immediate pleasure in social communication, in every social exercise; so men, as we are constituted, cannot engage one another in mutual assistance, but by shewing each his willingness to assist the rest, and his sincere cordial regard to the well-being and interest of the whole body. Every one, in order to be liked and regarded by others, must at least put on the shew of liking and regarding others; for one would otherwise be looked upon as a common enemy, and as such be abandoned, nay, hated and persecuted by all men. And let me just observe here, in opposition to those who assert that there is not really any benevolence or regard to the interests of others in human nature, but that it is self-love which assumes the affected appearance of it, in order to deceive, well knowing the necessity of seeming to love others, in order to be assisted by them, as our necessities require.11 Let me observe, that were there not generally prevailing among mankind a real principle of sociality and benevolence, this imposition, this counterfeit regard to others, would not be able to answer its end. Were all men utterly devoid of any such principle, and were the appearance of sociality every where counterfeited, the false appearance would nowhere take; it would nowhere be believed, and nothing like trust, or harmony and union could prevail among mankind, but they would live in continual jealousies and suspicions. So that of necessity it must be owned, that there is in the generality of mankind naturally a real principle of sociality and benevolence. This is plain from the necessary effect of one’s being discovered to have acted under a mask of benevolence and honest regard to others; for in that case, hardly can any power or strength such a person may have acquired, protect him against just resentment. Such a one must indeed be strongly defended to secure himself against the condign vengeance of mankind. And whatever his power may be, in consequence of his wrath and guards, or armies attached to him by his wealth, hanging upon him by the teeth (to use the phrase of a very great author),12 yet he cannot avoid being hated by all the rest, and he cannot be loved even by them who are thus tied to him: And consequently, it is no wonder, that every one of this character, and in this situation with regard to mankind, in consequence of his known character, hath ever been found most compleatly miserable; tormented by galling fears, suspicions and jealousies. There never was a tyrant who was not in this terrible condition, as Cicero observes, Offices, book 2.13 then are not only under a necessity by nature of being social, but they are actually provided with affections which make them such, as well as with the various talents necessary to a variety of industry, and communication of industry. So that thus far nature obliges and impels to the same course of life, viz. a course of social industry and communication, a course of honest and cordial interchanges of mutual assistances and services. 2. But besides this general dependence diffused throughout the whole species, there are dependencies of another kind among mankind, to which likewise there are correspondent affections in human nature, that without such dependencies would not have exercise or employment. The Author of nature hath spread over mankind a natural aristocracy, which appears in every assembly of mankind. Some are superior in understanding to the greater part, in every casual or designed meeting of men, consisting of suppose ten, twenty, or any other number. And what is the natural effect of this, in consequence of the hu-man frame? Superiority in wisdom, by fitting to give proper counsel in matters of common concernment, naturally produces esteem, veneration, submission, and gratitude in those who feel the benefit of their superior wisdom, or to whom it serves as a light to direct them; that is, it gives authority to the men of superior wisdom; and it excites cordial dependence and confidence upon them in the breasts of those who reap the advantages of it. And thus those who excel in wisdom, have the pleasure of having authority and respect paid to them. And those who receive counsel and direction from them, have the pleasure of being instructed by them, and the sincere satisfaction which arises from gratitude and affection to benefactors, which is naturally so strong, that it is hard to say who are happiest, those who give, or those who receive. This we may observe, from the pleasure with which youth receive information from a prudent affectionate teacher: and in general, from the warm and zealous affection with which persons obliged attach themselves to a wise and generous patron, follow his directions: and espouse his interest.
But let it be observed, that this is only the case while those of superior parts shew a sincere regard in their counsels and directions to the general good; and do not attempt to deceive those who depend upon them into hurtful measures, with a selfish narrow view. For so soon as that is perceived, veneration is changed into contempt and hatred. And thus the superior in parts deprives himself of one chief reward of superior prudence, which is, the authority, leading and dependence it would other-wise give him. History is full of instances, which are so many clear proofs of this. The Roman history in particular, in the language of which republic, as an excellent author hath observed, the influence of superiority in wisdom united with benevolence, was called auctoritas patrum; and the veneration paid by the people to it was called verecundia plebis.15 There is in every man naturally a desire of power. It indeed enlarges and becomes stronger, in proportion as the mind enlarges and opens. But it is so strong, even in the meanest, that unless they depend, or hang upon others by the teeth, they may be led, but they will not be driven. If nature had not implanted in all men a desire of power, and a strong sensibility to wrong and injury, the veneration which superiority in parts naturally inspires, would have rendered the generality of mankind, who stand in need of leading and direction, too submissive, too tame and humble. But notwithstanding the natural aristocracy diffused over mankind, yet such is the general temper of mankind, that not only superiority in parts, without benevolence, will not gain respect and submission, but even a stricter and closer dependence will hardly be able to keep men in subjection when power over them is abused, if it can by any means be shaken off. 3. And this leads me to take notice of another kind of dependence among mankind; a dependence necessarily resulting from inequality in property. I need not stay to prove that earth, the habitation of men, being given by nature to be possessed and appropriated by the industry of the first occupants, the world could no sooner be tolerably well peopled, but in every district there would be inequality of property. I need not stay to prove how this would naturally happen in consequence of the manner in which mankind is propagated by successive generations, the natural aristocracy among mankind, which hath been mentioned, and other causes; nor to shew what revolutions in property, commerce, not to mention force, will naturally be ever bringing about, where the balance of property is not fixed by civil laws and constitutions; far less need I stay to prove that an over-balance of property will produce power or dominion proportional to it. These things have been sufficiently explained by the most ingenious Harrington.16 All that it belongs to our present purpose to observe with relation to it, is, that as inferiorities and superiorities, with regard to the good of the body as well as of the mind, are necessary to social communication; necessary to make mankind mutually dependent, or to lay a foundation for mutual giving and receiving; so, with respect to external dependencies, or hanging by the teeth, that must necessarily take place among mankind in consequence of unequal property, men are furnished by nature with all the affections such dependencies require, in order to render them a means of agreeable union and coherence, or to found upon them very various social commerce. For, 1. Men have a principle of benevolence to excite them to take delight in doing good, and in being serviceable to one another. And, 2. They have a sensibility to oppression and injustice, which impels them to ward against injury, and resent it with great vehemence. Wherefore, as without some sort of dependencies there could be no such thing as social commerce; so mankind could not be better provided by nature than they are for reaping all the advantages of mutual dependencies, and for securing themselves against all the inconveniencies that can arise from mutual dependency. And as reciprocal dependence lays mankind under a necessity of social communication; so the natural affections with which men are endued, point out to us the manner in which social communication ought to be carried on. For benevolence naturally produces love and gratitude. But no one can be so powerful as not to want assistance in many respects; and the indignation against injury, and aversion to slavery or absolute subjection, natural to mankind, will render power very ineffectual to true happiness without benevolence. Since that alone can excite love, affection, trust, or esteem; and he who knows himself to be hated and despised, must be very unhappy amidst the greatest affluence of outward enjoyments, as well as very unsecure of long possessing them. Thus therefore nature hath made the exercises of benevolence, good-will, compassion, generosity, gratitude, fidelity, integrity and friendship, to be, in every respect, the happiness of mankind, and the happiness of every individual. And therefore, of the mutual wants and dependencies among mankind, which some look upon as an objection against the good government of the world, it may justly be said,
But this will yet more clearly appear, when we consider, 4. The necessary dependence of children upon their parents, in consequence of the manner in which nature hath appointed the propagation of mankind, and the affections which nature hath implanted in men, in order to direct and impel them to the care of their infant-offspring, and to the propagation of mankind in the way necessary to the general happiness of mankind. It is evident, that proper care cannot be taken of infants, as they come into the world in a most helpless condition, unless their parents unite together in concern about bringing them up to a state capable of doing for themselves. Neither their bodies nor their minds can otherwise be taken due care of. Now, in order to excite us to this care, nature hath implanted in us several strong affections, all centering in it as their end; so that a great part of human happiness, a great part of our most agreeable employments, really consists in parental cares, and filial returns to such cares. There is not only a strong mutual sympathy between the sexes, founded in, and supported by many mutual wants and ties. But mankind have a strong natural inclination to continue themselves in a new race, which they may look upon as their own; to which a regular union between the sexes, in such a manner, that love and fidelity may be most securely depended upon, is evidently necessary. And no sooner are children born to parents in such a way, that there is no doubt of their being the offspring of faithful embraces, than a warm love springs up in their minds towards this progeny, which is considerably increased by our sense of their absolute dependence upon our care, and soon receives an additional warmth from the gratitude, love and attachment to us, which they very early discover, and which become firmer, by becoming more rational, in proportion to the care parents take of what is principal in relation to their childrens happiness, the formation of their minds. Desire to be a parent, and the head of a family, is an affection that early sprouts up in every mind, and hath betimes a great share in all our pursuits. And when the marital and parental ties are once formed, then nature points our views more immediately towards our offspring and family, as the most proper object of our care. And this is evidently the manner in which benevolence should operate in order to the general happiness of mankind. Thus nature makes certain persons nearer and dearer to one another, and by so doing ascertains or appropriates to every one certain more immediate objects of his concern and affection; and, at the same time, instead of severing or dividing mankind by this means into so many separate bodies, with separate interests, binds mankind together by so many more ties. For every one, who hath a warm attachment to the welfare of many endeared to him by special bonds and affections, must feel a stronger obligation, than those who are strangers to such motives, to gain the love of mankind, without which his own power to do good to such would be of very little consequence, however great it might be with it. There is this remarkable difference between the instinct of brutes, that impels them to the care of their offspring, and the natural affections of mankind.
Now nature, by thus ordering the propagation of mankind, and enduing us with corresponding affections as parents and as children, assigns to eve-ry one a more immediate and particular task or care; the faithful discharge of which by each in his sphere, would make human life all peace, love and harmony. Our general benevolence hath thus a particular biass, which points it into its proper road, or into its first cares and principal employments. Were mankind to be propagated as they are, and we not endued with the affections which are really implanted in us by nature, to how many bad chances, with regard to their education more especially, would mankind be exposed in their infant-state? And, on the other hand, if we had not those natural affections in us which tend to regular propagation, in order to have certain children, and to due care of our thus certain offspring; would not we want many sincere pleasures, many warm, interesting, delightful cares? Would it not our general benevolence want a strong source for nourishing and supporting it? And would not be left too vague and undetermined by nature? But being constituted as we are, our benevolence is properly directed, and properly invigorated; and nature hath given us affections to impel us to what necessity obliges us; with affections which makes every one feel immediate satisfaction in that regular exertion of benevolence, which the interest of all in general requires. Thus, while every man touches us as such, certain particulars strongly call upon our special attention; and we have each a particular province assigned to us by the natural tendency of our affections, the faithful discharge of which is contributing a very great share towards the public good. And this determination of our mind to particular exercises of benevolence, is so far from stinting and confining benevolence, or from having a natural tendency to degenerate into a narrow clannish disposition, that it naturally produces a fellow-feeling with all other parents and their cares, i.e. with all mankind; and renders the mind in general much more tender and sympathizing than it can be without frequently feeling such kindly emotions. For this plain reason, that humanity and benevolence, like all other affections, grow stronger and stronger by exercise; or, in other words, repeated exercises form a general temper correspondent to them.
We have now therefore found that nature lays us under the necessity of social communication, and impels us to it by strong affections; and lays us under the necessity of social communication in a certain order, to which it likewise prompts and impels us by very strong affections, giving particular determinations to our benevolence, or assigning a nearer, a more immediate province to it. And hitherto certainly we have found our nature to be very well constituted, even in that respect against which the greatest objections have been made (viz. differences or inequalities among mankind): and hitherto also we have found the obligations arising from our constitution, and the connexions of things relative to our happiness, to be very obvious. They stare every one, who considers human nature with any attention, so to speak, in the face.
Other affections in the human mind explained.But we will still perceive another security in our constitution against the degeneracy of family attachments into too narrow, confined, and partial benevolence, when we consider another determination in our nature, excellently adapted to check not only self-love, but partial affection of whatever sort, whether towards relatives by blood or friends; and admirably adapted to the circumstances of human life in general; which is the sympathy and pity distress immediately excites in the human breast, violently interesting us in the miseries of others. An embodied state must necessarily be liable to various calamities, in consequence of the very laws of matter and motion, which make the best, the most or-derly, convenient and beautiful system, as our mundan system is well known to natural philosophers to be. And nature hath, by wise and kind care, implanted in the human heart a principle of compassion, which is admirably well adjusted to such a condition. For by this we are impelled to sympathize with the afflicted, and to run without delay to their relief. And how much doth even sympathy itself alleviate pain and suffering! Such is the nature of compassion, that it considers or attends to no more but distress, is immediately excited, and directly pushes to give the relief which the calamity calls for, without counting kindred, or so much as asking who the sufferer is; and gives indeed no small pain, when help is not in our power. Now, surely nature could not have more clearly pointed out to us the order in which our benevolence ought to work, than by determining it to receive such an impression, such a tendency from distress. It is true, this affection may be too strong to answer its end, as it plainly is, when it quite overpowers and enfeebles one. And by pains taken to harden the heart, it may, on the other hand, become very weak, nay, be almost quite erazed out of the mind. But have we not reason to guide all our affections to their proper end, obedience to which is, as hath been observed, our first duty or obligation by the laws of our nature? And what can be more evident to a considering person, than that the end of this passion is to knit mankind together, and to give them a fellow-feeling with one another, that they might thus be kept from injuring one another, and be prompted to assist one another in the calamities and distresses to which all men in common are obnoxious? Or who will say, that tho’ there be a mixture of pain in this affection, yet it is not, notwithstanding, so agreeable an emotion of the mind, that the pleasures arising from the exercises of it, make a counterbalance to the bodily evils resulting from the necessity of nature sufficient to vindicate providence, when we reflect at the same time upon the many other goods arising from the same excellent laws which make these evils necessary? That the exercise of compassion is a high satisfaction, the tragic art, the principal charm of which lies in violently moving and agitating our pity, is a sufficient proof. And indeed, by the consent of all mankind, a breast quite devoid of compassion, is pronounced inhuman; i.e. unfit for human life; a stranger to the best feelings, the most agreeable and becoming emotions of the human heart. The reason is, because such are in fact found to be equally strangers to natural affections, to friendship, to a sense of honour, and consequently to all the richest sources of human delight; the richest sources of human delight for these affections being removed, what remains but the palate, and a few other organs of sense, in the whole list of human means or capacities of gratification? But wherever compassion prevails, there nature hath given a particular determination to our benevolence, the use of which to mankind in general is very evident; there nature hath made a connexion with regard to public and private happiness that merits our attention; there nature hath given a sense, a capacity of pleasure, that deserves our care and keeping: it cannot be impaired or corrupted, without sadly diminishing the provision nature hath made for our enjoyment, for the happiness of every individual, as well as the common happiness of our kind. Every road that nature hath made to true happiness, is a law of nature to us. And therefore, if natural affections belong to us, or if compassion belongs to us, they are, in this sense, laws of nature to man, that they indicate to us a certain course of affection and action, which nature hath made to be one considerable source of enjoyment to us. For can happiness be found but where nature hath placed it? Can we change and alter the natures of things at our pleasure, and make any thing painful or agreeable as we will? If we cannot, we must take nature’s paths, and seek happiness where nature has laid it. But nature hath placed it in industry, benevolence, natural affection, compassion, and the presidence of reason. These are the chief sources from which we must draw it. We can no more alter these connexions than we can change the laws of motion and gravity. They are therefore laws to us in the same sense, that the laws of motion are laws to human arts for the attainment of their ends.
Other affections adapted to our dependencies and necessities explained.But the human mind is a very complicated structure: It is composed not of one, but many principles of action, all of which are sources of very considerable enjoyment, and at the same time mutual checks or poises one to another, in order to point and lead us into, and keep us in the course of behaviour, which is at once the interest of every individual, and of the whole species. Several such have been already mentioned, and there are yet two others, the use of which in our frame well deserve our attention. 1. The first is a principle of resentment. By this we mean not merely sudden anger, which is nothing else but the necessary operation of self-defence, or sensibility to danger and hurt, and hath hurt as such for its object; for this is common to man with all sensible creatures: But we understand that indignation which injury or wrong, as such, necessarily excites in our mind, which supposes a sense of injustice or injury, and can only take place in minds capable of distinguishing equity and iniquity. In this do these two principles, which are often confounded together, in treating of the human affections, differ, that one hath suffering for its object and motive cause, the other that suffering only which is apprehended to be injurious. It is opposition, sudden hurt, violence, which naturally excites sudden or momentary anger; reflexion on the real demerit or fault of him who offers that violence, or is the cause of that opposition or hurt, is not necessary to occasion this mere sensation or feeling. It is mere instinct, as merely so, as the disposition to shut our eyes upon the apprehension of something falling into them, and no more necessarily implies any degree of reason. For it works in infants, in the lower species of animals, and (not seldom) in men towards them, in none of which instances this passion can be imagined to be the effect of reason, or any thing but mere instinct or sensation. And no doubt the reason and end for which man was made thus liable to this passion, was to qualify and arm him to prevent (or perhaps chiefly) to resist and defeat sudden violence, considered merely as such, and without regard to the fault of him who is the author of it.
But resentment, which on account of what it hath in common with sudden anger, may be called deliberate anger, is not naturally excited by mere harm, but in order to move it, harm must be apprehended as injurious or wrong. “This is so much (says an excellent author) understood by mankind, that a person would be reckoned quite distracted, who should coolly resent an harm, which had not to himself the appearance of injury or wrong.”19 Now that the reason and end for which this principle is implanted in us by nature, is to fill us with indignation against injury, and to excite us to resist, defeat and punish it, is evident; for this is the end to which it naturally tends. And therefore, with regard to it, it is plain, that it is in its nature a social affection: it is a fellow-feeling which each individual hath in behalf of the whole species. For tho’ injury to ourselves must affect us more intimately than injury done to others, in consequence of the nearer sensibility to one’s self, which is inseparable from the constitution of every sensible being; yet we find that the way in which injuries to others affect us, is exactly the same in kind. To be convinced of this, we need only attend to the manner in which a feigned story of baseness and villainy works up this passion in us. And such being the nature of this passion, it is far from being any defect or fault in our constitution, or from being in the least degree a-kin to malice: It is, on the contrary, so connected with a sense of moral good and evil, or of virtue and vice, that it could not take place without it; and may be properly said to be resentment or indignation against vice and wickedness. Far less still can this affection in our constitution be reckoned of a pernicious tendency, when we consider it as united in our frame with the other affections we have already mentioned, as compassion in particular; for as it is counter-balanced by them, and intended to co-operate with them, it can be designed for no other end but to make the resistance and opposition to vice which vice demerits, and not to give pain for the sake of tormenting others. For our compassion being moved by the suffering of another as such, and our resentment being only excited by wrong as such, we are thus by nature equally furnished for repelling injuries, and for commiserating innocent sufferers. Reason hath thus, as it were, two handles to guide us by, whether in repelling injuries, or in pitying sufferers, by each of which the other is kept within due bounds. Compassion is of use to moderate resentment, and resentment to hinder compassion from misplacing its tenderness upon the undeserving and vicious, to the prejudice of innocence and merit. So social then is our frame, that there is no passion in our nature which delights immediately in misery as such. But, on the contrary, misery always excites compassion, unless when it is apprehended as the just desert of injury. And so far is resentment generally from being too strong in human nature, that however eagerly it may desire and pur-sue the punishment of injustice, yet the punishment, which is the end of the passion, is no sooner gained, than commonly it gives way to compassion to such a degree, that it requires keeping the injustice of the sufferer very fully and strongly in our view, not to succumb entirely to pity. 2. But I have chiefly mentioned this principle in our nature here, as it, together with what I am now to take notice of, viz. the love of fame and power, renders mankind capable of several great actions. For if we examine narrowly into what it is that impels the human mind to dangerous and bold atchievements, and gives heroic spirits such high delight in pursuits seemingly so opposite to self-love, we will find that these are the sources in our nature, from whence the delight in them, and the motives to them principally flow; I say, principally flow, because no doubt a moral sense of beauty in actions (of which afterwards) hath no small share in true heroism; and religious principles, as they are of a very proper nature to promote true fortitude, patience and courage, so they have often produced the greatest actions, the bravest heroes.
Whence the hazardous enterprizes with which the history of all ages and countries is filled, that strike us with such admiration and amazement? To what do historians ascribe them? And to what source does every reader chiefly refer them in his own mind? Is it not to the love of power or empire, and the love of fame? Now surely, if these be the main incentives to atchievements, in which life and all its advantages are so boldly risked; we may justly conclude, that the love of power and fame may arrive to a very great pitch of vigour and force in the human mind. And such indeed are the circumstances of several most renowned actions in history, that so much of the motives to them must needs be ascribed to these sources, as makes it very proper in an analysis of the human affections, to give particular attention to the love of fame and power, and the ends for which they are implanted in us by nature. Now, into whatever extravagancies the love of fame and power may run; (as what passion in our nature may not be perverted, and so degenerate into something very wild, foolish and hurtful) yet they are implanted in us for very useful purposes. Let us consider the two separately. 1. The love of fame. Is it not a passion that takes its rise from sociability, and that strongly cements us to the interests of our kind? For what is it at bottom but regard to the esteem and love of mankind? Can we love mankind without desiring to be respected, esteemed and honoured by them? or can we like actions which tend to gain us the love of mankind, without liking the love they tend to gain? Love of fame is inseparable from sociality; and true honour consisting in the merited real esteem of mankind, is a noble aim; not a mean or mercenary view, but a truly generous and laudable motive. Nay, so nearly allied is this praise-worthy ambition to virtue, that he who despises fame will soon forsake the paths which lead to it. And therefore Cicero justly says, Vult plane virtus honorem nec est virtutis alia merces.20 2. As for the love of power. It is absolutely necessary to beings made for progress in perfection, and to extend and enlarge their faculties. For what else is it at bottom, but desire to expand and enlarge ourselves, to dilate and widen our sphere of activity? Without this impulse, without being made to receive high delight from the consciousness of our growing and advancing in perfection, in knowledge, in authority, in power to serve others, and promote their interests, how listless and inactive would our minds be? And how listless indeed, sluggish and inactive are the minds, where the love of encreasing all their powers, the desire of being as independent of others, and as sufficient to themselves as they can be, does not prevail in some degree! 3. And in a life subject to evils of various sorts, to many natural calamities, and many greater moral ones, arising from the perverted, corrupt affections of men, how necessary are both these principles to fortify our minds with patience and courage, and to qualify us to oppose and defeat these evils? Where these passions do not obtain in a great degree, how easy a conquest are a people to every proud usurper or tyrant; how tamely and submissively do they yield their necks to the yoke of arbitrary power? But as useful as these noble principles are in our nature, and as great a share as they have in the great actions which chiefly render the history of human life capable of attracting or detaining our attention, yet all must not be ascribed to them. For that just resentment against injury, just indignation against oppression, tyranny and despotic insolence, often kindle the heroe’s breast with a generous ardour to destroy and root out these enemies of mankind, and make him rush intrepidly into the thickest dangers to rescue his fellow-creatures, his country, from slavery and misery;—that this passion is often the patriot’s chief motive in his most perilous and brave enterprizes, almost the only thing he hath in his view to animate and invigorate him, might be proved by many shining instances from history. But all that it belongs to our present purpose to observe is, that none of these passions are inconsistent with a social principle, but on the contrary take their rise from it: it is the only root from which they can spring: Nor are these affections weakened or perverted by any other means than those which equally weaken or pervert every other generous or great affection in our minds. Thus, the same long subjection to arbitrary power, which almost quite effaces all ideas of liberty, all greatness, boldness and freedom of mind, is it not likewise observed to render them, who have been long inured to it, sluggish, indolent, ungenerous, revengeful, and rather nearer to the temper of monkeys or buffoons in all respects, than to the spirit and temper of men? However these principles or dispositions may be corrupted, they are to us, as they naturally stand in our frame, sources of very noble pleasures, and motives to very great and laudable activity. We cannot suppose them removed out of our constitution, without reducing mankind to a very low and contemptible creature, in comparison of what it is the natural tendency of these affections to render us, as they are united in our frame with benevolence, compassion, and natural affections to our parents and offspring. They cannot be taken from us, without cutting off from mankind all capacity of the greater pursuits that now adorn and bless human life. Nor can they indeed be objected against in our frame, when they are thus considered. And when the Author of nature is blamed by any philosopher for having implanted them in our frame, they are represented by such as making the only principles of action in our minds; and are thus disjoined from other principles in us, with which they are naturally united, and consequently intended by nature to co-operate. But certainly, in order to judge of a constitution, we must consider all its parts as they mutually respect one another, and by these mutual respects make a whole. Thus we judge of all other constitutions or structures, natural or artificial. And thus likewise ought we to judge of the fabric of the human mind.
Recapitulation.Now, having thus analized the human mind into the chief principles, dispositions or affections of which it is compounded; what follows, but that, this mind so constituted is a law to itself; or that it, and the connexions relative to it, which have likewise been explained as we proceeded in this resolution of the human mind into its component parts, make to man the laws and rules of his ac-tions? Thus laws of conduct are constituted to man for the government of his affections, in order to the attainment of happiness in the same manner that the laws of matter and motion constitute rules to human arts for the attainment of their ends. In the same sense that it is necessary for man to act consonantly to the properties of air and water, in order to gain certain purposes, such as raising water, &c. in the same sense are the connexions relative to our affections, laws or rules to us, how to regulate and direct them, in order to avoid certain evils and to obtain certain goods. We have not in this enquiry meddled with a question, the manner of handling which hath greatly perplexed the science of morality, viz. the freedom of human will:Why we do not here enter into the dispute about liberty and necessity. For this evident reason, that it neither more nor less concerns morals, than it does an enquiry into the connexions of nature, whence the rules in mechanical arts must be deduced. This is manifest. Because, if man be not at all master of his actions, it must be as much in vain to direct him how to act in any one way, as how to direct him in any other. Directions and counsels, or exhortations, can only be of use with respect to things in human power. But if directions, counsels, or exhortations, with regard to industry in cultivating mechanical arts for the benefit or ornament of human life, can be of any use to man, then must man be acknowledged to be master of almost all the powers, faculties and affections to which any other counsels, directions or exhortations can be addressed. For then must he be master of getting knowledge, if he will; master of applying himself to study and labour; he must be capable of being moved by representations of what the interests of society require, and of making that the end of his pursuits; master of despising toil and hardships in that view; and master of aiming at fame and honour, by doing some laudable service to mankind in that way. But if he be so far master of his af-fections and actions, which affections and actions is he not master of in the same sense? Indeed all the grave sophistry about liberty and necessity, with which moral enquiries have been so sadly embarrassed, to the great obstruction of true and useful knowledge, might as well be prefixed to a system of physics as of morals. For if they prove any thing at all, they prove that mankind ought to fold their arms, and let things go as they will. If they prove, or are designed to prove this, are not rules about sowing in seed-time in order to reap in harvest, rules about building ships, or any other machines, as idle as rules about the government of the affections? And if they are not designed to prove this, what are they intended for? For till this is proved to be a necessary consequence of God’s foreknowledge, or of our being influenced by motives, or of whatever other truth from which necessity is thought to follow,—till this be proved, what is called necessity, cannot be contrary to what is called liberty, viz. our having certain things in our power, or our being the disposers or masters of our actions. In fine, whatever proves any thing repugnant to our liberty, must prove that we are not at all masters of doing, or not doing as we will in any case; that we have no power, no dominion, no sphere of activity; or, in one word, that we are not agents: and this being proved, mechanical arts, which are rules to certain actions, or rules for our attaining certain ends, are just as much affected by it, as the science of morals, which is a system of rules to certain other actions, or for our attaining certain other ends. The arguments brought against human liberty, were never said only to prove that necessity extends merely a certain length, and no further. Nor can it be said; for if they prove any thing at all, they must prove universal necessity. And if they do indeed prove universal necessity, then human action in every sense is absurd, and consequently all rules to human actions of any sort or kind are equally absurd; or by the universal necessity they are said to prove, and brought to prove, is meant a necessity with which human agency is very consistent; which will be to say, that they are brought to prove, and do prove that we are not agents in a sense that is however very compatible with our being agents. Surely the controversy about liberty and necessity must be of very little moment, nay, a very idle, impertinent logomachy, if any asserters of necessity think that the necessity they plead for is absolutely consistent with our being masters of our actions, our having a sphere of power which we are capable of using well or abusing, as we please. For never was liberty understood to mean more than dominion and power, and accountableness, in consequence of our being disposers of our actions. And so in this case their necessity is our liberty. But if they really mean an universal necessity, absolutely repugnant to our agency, i.e. to our having the disposal of our actions, which renders rules and directions about actions absurd, as proceeding upon a false supposition; then are those, who treat of gaining certain natural ends by certain actions adjusted to natural connexions, as much concerned in the controversy as moralists, when they treat of attaining certain other ends by actions adjusted to other natural connexions. And for this reason, we may dismiss it as a question which does not particularly concern our subject; but every subject equally, which supposes man to be an agent.
The conclusion from the whole preceding reasoning.And therefore, to go on with our conclusion, we say, that the connexions which we have found to be fixed by nature, relative to our happiness, are laws of nature to our conduct in the same sense that the connexions in nature, relative to certain physical ends, are laws with regard to certain physical arts. They are laws we cannot alter, but to which we must conform, in order to attain our greatest happiness, our best enjoyments, or greatest goods. And they are laws appointed by the Author of nature to our conduct. For all established connexions in nature must mean connexions appointed and upheld, or subsisting by virtue of the will of the Author of nature, who gave being to all things, and to all orders and connexions of things (§3). Now, all this being true, it follows, that man is in the same sense made for prudence and self-government; for industry; for acting with reason, and agreeably to its dictates; for benevolence, or the pursuit of public good; for paternal cares and filial gratitude; for indignation against injury and oppression, and for compassion towards our suffering or distressed fellow-creatures; it follows, I say, that we are made for these ends in the same sense that the eye is made to see, the ear to hear, that a certain structure is made for flying, and another for swiming and living in water, or that bodies are made to gravitate in proportion to their quantities of matter, or are to be considered as having that property in human arts. The Author of nature, who hath made the one kind of connexions, hath likewise made and fixed the other. And if the preceding account of human nature, or of our internal principles and dispositions, and the connexions relative to them be true, to say man is not made for the exercises above-mentioned, to which we may now certainly give the name of virtues, without taking any thing in morals for granted, is to say, a being endued with a governing principle, by which it is intended he should govern himself, is not intended to be so governed; which is to assert, that a governing principle is not, in its nature and end, a governing principle: it is to say, a being endued with a governing principle, the use and end of which is to give him self-command, or the mastership of his affections, is not made to be master of his affections by his governing principle; which is to assert, that he hath a principle which hath an end and use which it hath not: It is to say, that a being who hath social affections, and a principle of benevolence, determined, or adapted to receive different kindly impressions from different objects, is not intended to have these social, affectionate, generous impressions, nor to exercise these affections; but has them for no end at all, or for a quite opposite and contrary end. In fine, let any man consider these virtues, and compare them with the make of the human mind, and all our internal principles and dispositions, and then say that man is made for imprudence, folly, wilfulness, and precipitancy; to be tossed to and fro by tumultuous contradictory affections, without any order or government; and to be cruel, tyrannical, abusive, oppressive, uncompassionate, quite unsocial. Let him say what reason he can give for affirming that the eye is made to enjoy the light, the ear to receive pleasure from music; or, in one word, what reason he can give for saying any thing natural or artificial is made for an end, that will not equally oblige him to say, man is framed, made and intended for rational government of his affections, for benevolence, and the other virtues which have been named. If he says, whatever affections men may have, man is made to pursue his pleasure, let him shew how men can have pleasure but from the gratifications of particular affections; and let him shew that the affections we have named are not belonging to human nature, or that they are not belonging to it as sources of pleasure and enjoyment. In fine, let him shew what other enjoyments human nature is provided for which are superior to the presidence of reason, affections disciplined by reason, and exerting themselves in the order of benevolence that hath been described. We reason from fact or experiment; and what we have maintained, can only be refuted by shewing our analysis of the human mind not to be fact. For if the resolution of the human mind that hath been given be just, our conclusion stands upon the same bottom with all the reasonings in natural philosophy concerning the structures, properties, laws, and final causes of things.Objection why there is so little virtue, so much vice among mankind. The only thing that can be objected against this deduction of the ends for which men are made and intended, is, that men are in fact very irregular; that the affections of mankind are generally very tumultuous and undisciplined, and there is much malignity, ill humour, envy and hatred amongst them; and that the love of power and fame do not generally lead men to benevolent, but rather to mischievous actions. But let mankind be represented as villainous as they have ever been said to be, by any philosopher or politician; or, if you will, more black and deformed than any hath ever yet called them, it will not shake or weaken our reasoning. For though that be not true, but, on the contrary, a very false charge, yet we can sufficiently account for the vilest corruptions that ever have, or ever can take place among mankind, very consistently with the preceding analysis of human nature, and the deduction of our duties; i.e. our natural ends, from that analysis. 1. First of all, there is no other conceivable way of furnishing or qualifying any agent for pursuing the virtues above-named, but by giving them the affections above described, and reason to conduct them. There is no way of qualifying one for doing all under the direction of reason, but by giving him faculties to be guided by reason, and reason to guide them. There is no other way of qualifying one for benevolence, but by giving him a benevolent disposition, and so disposing him, as that he may feel great pleasure in its exercises. Let the objectors against human nature point out what else could be done. Let them name what is wanting to make us rational and benevolent in our behaviour, that nature hath not done for us. If they say reason is too weak in human nature, or does not grow up fast enough to do us great service as a guide, this leads to the second thing to be considered on this head. 2. Which is, that reason must grow and improve by culture. It can only become strong by exercise and improvement. It can only become so powerful as to be habitually our fixed and settled guide and ruler, by repeated acts. For thus alone can any habits be wrought in us; thus alone can any affections, dispositions, principles, or powers and faculties of action in us become habits; i.e. become strong and prevalent. Repeated exercise is the sole way of acquiring habits. It is therefore the sole way of perfecting reason, or any faculty or principle in our constitution; and what other way can we conceive, by which it is better to attain to perfection of any kind than by industry, diligence, and repeated acts? But if this be a necessary or fit law of our nature, in order to our attainment to perfection, that habits should be formed by repeated exercise, and only be so formed; must not the effect of this be, that bad and hurtful habits will be contracted by repeated bad exercises, and that false or wrong associations of ideas will be very powerful, very difficult to be disjoined or undone? Must not the effect of it be, that if bad habits are suffered to grow up to a great degree of strength in our minds by bad education, or through carelesness about our education, and reason is not early accustomed to rule and govern in young minds, that rational dominion over the affections will be very difficultly acquired; the sensitive appetites will be exceeding riotous; and every passion that has been often called forth, or incited to indulge itself by tempting shews of pleasure, will become imperious, headstrong, and unruly? For it must be remembered, that we are not merely intellectual beings, but that we have senses and corporeal appetites, which will necessarily become, in consequence of the law of habits, too strong for reason and benevolence to govern, if they are not early accustomed to the government and discipline of reason. And it must likewise be remembered, that our opinions of goods must regulate our affections; and therefore, if false ideas have been imbibed early, and have long passed unexamined, uncontroverted in the mind, these wrong associations of ideas, and false judgments of things, will be very hard to overcome; it will be extremely difficult to eradicate or correct them. But what is all this, but, in one word, a long habit of acting without reason, or of despising reason, instead of inuring our ideas, fancies, opinions, and appetites, to receive their direction from our reason, and to act under its presidence and government. And therefore, in speaking of our being made to consult reason, and act under its conduct and guidance, we took notice of the necessity of right education, in order to establish reason early into our governing principle (§8). But having elsewhere* discoursed at great length of the power of habits, and the way in which they are formed, and of the chief sources of corrupt affections amongst mankind, it is sufficient to take notice here in general, that there are almost no vices among mankind which could take place amongst them, were we not endued by nature with the best affections; affections necessary to make us social, benevolent, great and good. They are corruptions or misguidances of them. Every hurtful affection is a very good one perverted. Accordingly Mr. Locke hath shewn us in his excellent treatise on education,21 how easily all the vices may be early engendered, nay, brought to a very great height of obstinacy by bad example and wrong methods of education; but he hath, at the same time, shewn us how all the vir-tues may be yet more easily formed in tender minds. And indeed there is no character in human life however enormous, that shews any affection naturally belonging to us, which is not of the greatest use, however hurtful its wrong turns, degeneracies, perversions or corruptions may be. Nor is there any other cause of degeneracy and corruption but bad habit, or not accustoming ourselves to exert our reason, and to act under its direction; which, how nature could have better furnished us for doing, than by giving us reason capable of high improvements; or have better impelled us to do, than by making us to see from examples, and feel from our own experience, as it does, the dismal effects of not acting rationally, the sad consequences of not consulting, or not obeying our reason, and of rashly giving way to every passion or appetite that circumstances may tempt into hurtful indulgences to specious semblance of pleasure, is inconceivable.
For howsoever odd, whimsical, or foolish the ruling passion in any heart may be, it is some passion necessary to excellent enjoyments and gratifications, that is become so odd, fantastical, or unreasonable. If it is any sensual appetite that is the ruler, and triumphs over all other affections of whatever kind, intellectual or social, will it follow from hence, that we ought not to have had senses, or to have been capable of sensitive pleasure? If it is the lust of power that has got the ascendant over benevolence in any one, to such a degree, that it is become his maxim; Si violandum est jus, regnandi gratia violandum est; aliis rebus pietatem colas.
Which is almost as great a height of villainy as it can arrive at. Yet ought the desire of power to have had no place in our frame, or is it of no use in it? Or finally, because the desire of getting riches to support a vain and extravagant way of living, if not severely checked, gradually corrupts the honestest minds, and at last engages them in pursuits, which some time before they could not think of without abhorrence; are for this reason all desire of property and power, of preeminence and honour, or even of elegance and grandeur, passions, absolutely condemnable in themselves, and to which human nature ought to have been an utter stranger? What we learn from Salust, Sueton, and other Authors, is by no means improbable, viz. That Julius Caesar had never attempted to destroy the liberties of his country, had he been able to have paid the debts which he had contracted by his excessive prodigality; and that abundance of people sided either with him or Pompey, only because they wanted wherewithal to supply their luxury, and were in hopes of getting by the civil wars, enough to support and maintain their former pride and greatness. But does it follow from hence, that all taste of elegance, all desire of glory, all love of power and wealth, are absolutely pernicious, and that they ought to have no place in our frame, or that we ought to have been made totally incapable of forming any ideas or affections that could ever degenerate into such perverse opinions and lusts? How much more just and truly philosophical is this reasoning in our excellent poet concerning human passions.
Nature, in order to make a necessary diversity of tempers among mankind, must either have made some particular affection originally stronger in one breast, and another in another; or have so ordered the situations of mankind, that the same original affections should of necessity take various turns in consequence of different circumstances calling forth more frequently, some one and some another affection, equally natural to all men. But what follows from hence, but that there is a vice, or a hurtful turn, into which every affection is in peculiar danger of degenerating, as is well known to poets, who describe characters, and place them in various circumstances of actions? Sure it does not follow that any of the affections implanted in the human mind by nature, ought to be wanting. Take them away, and the vices or diseases to which they are incident, will likewise be removed: But so will the perfections or virtues to which they may rise and be improved by due culture, likewise be sent apacking. And to what a low size will men be thus reduced? Tho’ it be reason that forms the virtues, yet our affections are the principles or materials that are formed into virtues by reason. Reason would indeed have nothing to guide, nothing to work upon, if we were not endued with all the affections, from the misguidances of which the most hurtful disturbances of human life proceed.
Man is made for virtue and virtuous happiness.Now what is the result of this, but that man is excellently furnished by nature for attaining, by the due discipline of the affections implanted in him, to prudence, to self-command, to benevolence, to fortitude, and to all that is called virtue; and that this is the end for which he is so made and framed, in the same sense that any thing is said to be made for the end to which its frame and constitution is well adapted; that this is his happiness, his perfection, the ultimate scope and design of his frame and all the laws relative to it, in any sense of end, scope or design.
Another proof of this, from the moral sense natural to us.’Tis true, we are not merely intellectual beings; we have senses and sensitive appetites, as well as moral capacities and social affections (§6): But it hath appeared, that we are made to govern all our appetites and affections by our reason; that our sensitive appetites ought to be under its command, and not to be allowed to obscure it, far less to triumph over it, and trample it under foot; and that our sensitive appetites are so far from engrossing or making the whole of our constitution, that we have other affections, the regular exercises of which, under the presidence and direction of reason, are our highest and noblest enjoyments. This hath been fully proved. And therefore, let it be now observed, that kind nature hath not only placed our happiness in the virtuous exercises which have been described, but hath so constituted and framed us, that the ideas of the presidence of reason, and of benevolence, can no sooner be presented to our minds than we must necessarily assent to and approve those two general rules of life, “That reason ought to hold the reins of government in our minds.” And, “That benevolence, or regard to public good, ought to be the reigning affection in them.” None can reflect upon these two rules without per-ceiving their fitness, and that immediately without making any calculations about their consequences. And therefore we may justly say with an excellent author (Domat in his treatise of laws) “That the first principles of morality or laws, have a character of truth, which touches and persuades more than that of the principles of other human sciences;Of our moral sense.that whereas the principles of other sciences, and the particular truths which depend upon them, are only the objects of the mind, and not of the heart, and that they do not even enter into the minds of all persons; the first principles of morals or laws, and the particular rules essential to these principles, have a character of truth which every body is capable of knowing, and which affects the mind and the heart alike. The whole man is penetrated by them, and more strongly convinced of them, than of the truths of all the other human sciences.”25 Or with another admirable moralist (Hutcheson in his Enquiry, &c.) “The Author of nature has much better furnished us for virtuous conduct, than many philosophers seem to imagine, or at least are willing to grant, by almost as quick and powerful instructions as we have for the preservation of our bodies. He has given us strong affections to be the springs of each virtuous action, and made virtue a lovely form, that we might easily distinguish it from its contrary, and be made happy by the pursuit of it. As the Author of nature has determined us to receive by our outward senses, pleasant or disagreeable ideas of objects, according as they are useful or hurtful to our bodies, and to receive from uniform objects the pleasures of beauty and harmony, to excite us to the pursuit of knowledge, and to reward us for it; in the same manner, he has given us a moral sense to direct our actions, and to give us still nobler pleasures; so that while we are only intending the good of others, we undesignedly promote our own greatest private good.”26 But having else where handled this subject at great length,27 it will be sufficient to remark here, 1. That in consequence of the sense of beauty in outward forms, and of the sense of beauty in affections, actions and characters, with which the human mind is endued, all the pleasures which man is intended by nature to pursue, may properly be comprized under the general notion of order or beauty: For they have all this general or common character, that they proceed from well disciplined and regulated affections, and they all tend to produce order within and without the mind. What is the presidence of reason, but reason maintaining order and harmony; and what do the regular exercises of benevolence which have been described produce, but inward and outward harmony? What makes the pleasure of contemplation and knowledge, besides the views of regularity, order and harmony? What is it that charms the imagination in any of the imitative arts? Or what hath what is called good taste for its object and scope, besides order and harmony in composition? And how gross and contemptible are all the pleasures of sense, when we abstract from them all elegance, all symmetry, proportion and order? Man therefore, may in general be said to be framed by nature to pursue order and harmony. And this is indeed the pursuit of the Author of nature himself, universal order and harmony, or, which is the same, universal good.By this moral sense we are led to conceive the virtues above described as commanded by God the Author of nature. But, 2. As the presidence of reason over all our appetites and affections, and the prevalence of benevolence in our temper, cannot be considered by us without being perceived, or rather felt to be our most reasonable and becoming part, nor the opposite character be reflected upon, without being disapproved and condemned by us; so we cannot consider the Author of nature, without immediately perceiving, that he deserves our highest adoration and love; and that benevolence, and the rational government of our affections, can alone render us like him, or recom-mend us to his favour, upon whom all our interests depend. We must of necessity own an universal cause, by which all things are made, and are upheld in being and governed. And our moral sense of what is the best, the most perfect disposition of mind, naturally leads us at once to ascribe perfect reason and benevolence to the first cause of all things, our Creator: And to apprehend it, 1. “To be his will, that we should act a rational and benevolent part in all our conduct.” And, 2. “That according to the constitution of things in his universal government, such conduct must be the only road to true happiness in the sum of things; so that whatever difficulties and trials may be necessary to the first state of rational agents, for their improvement in moral perfection, yet upon the whole, sincere virtue shall make happy, and confirmed vice shall render miserable.” These truths are obvious necessary consequences, from the idea of an all-perfect Maker and Governor of the universe. But these truths being fixed, then are we under obligation to benevolence and rational government, in this strict and proper sense of obligation, “That the Author and Governor of the Universe, our Lord and Creator, wills or commands us to exert our reason, as the Governor of our affections, and to pursue in all our conduct the good of our kind.” The virtues for which we have found man to be furnished and intended, do, when considered in this light, take the character of laws in a sense applicable to them only, i.e. of universal unalterable commands laid upon us by the Author of nature, the Sovereign disposer of all our interests.And consequently to be enjoined by moral laws properly so called.The connexions observed by nature in the production of physical effects, are very properly called laws of matter and motion, or laws by which the Author of nature has willed that matter should operate, or more properly be operated upon; and they are of necessity laws to human arts, since human art cannot accomplish any end but by acting in conformity to them. But the connexions relative to our moral powers, our reason, our social affections, and the subordinacy of all our appetites and affections to reason, in consequence of which certain rules must be observed by us in order to private and public happiness, are not only laws to us in this respect, that we can only attain to our best enjoyments by acting conformably to them; they are also laws to us in this sense, that acting conformably to them is agreeable to our Creator; and it is his will that we should conform our conduct to them. So that they are not merely moral laws, as they are laws of nature respecting moral ends; but they are moral laws in this respect, that they are rules for the conduct of our life and manners, which cannot be transgressed or departed from without incurring guilt in the sight of God, without offending against his will and authority, and rendering ourselves obnoxious to all the consequences of his regard to virtue or moral perfection, and his disapprobation or detestation of vice. They are rules which he hath necessarily determined our minds to approve, and to conceive as his commands, as often as we consider them, and take a view of the perfections which must belong to the Divine Mind. And therefore, they are laws that come up to this definition of a law, viz. “The will of a superior who hath a just title to command, and sufficient power to enforce conformity to his commands.” And indeed it is when prudence, temperance, fortitude, benevolence, and all the other virtues are considered in this light, that they alone can have their full force. For in this light only are they fully and perfectly considered; or till we conceive of them in this view, we have not an adequate notion of all the obligations to conform our practice to them, which essentially belong to them. It will be readily acknowledged, that two motives must needs have more force than one. But this is not all: No view that can be ta-ken of the virtues above described, can have so much power to influence mankind as the conception of them under the notion of the divine will or law, not commanding arbitrarily or without reason, but for the good of rational agents; since what is thus apprehended or considered, must work upon us in various manners; excite our emulation to be like the most perfect of Beings, and agreeable to him; stir up our gratitude to engage us to act the part he approves and commands; influence our hope with high expectations of great advantages from his love and favour; and raise our fear of offending him to a due pitch of reverence towards his authority.Regard to the divine law is religion.Now, regard to virtue, influenced by these considerations, is properly called religion. And that man is made for religion, as well as for virtue, is evident, since we cannot reason at all about the nature of things, without being led to apprehend a first Supreme Cause: nor can we represent to ourselves the perfections of an eternal all-sufficient Mind, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, without being filled with the highest veneration towards him, and his will with relation to our conduct. And meditation upon the divine perfections, is in reality the noblest source of delight to the human mind, and an exercise that hath the sweetest, the benignest influence upon the temper. But not to insist at present upon the pleasures which a just sense of God and divine providence afford to the mind; if the being of a God be owned, it must certainly be true, that we are under religious obligation to that rational government of our affections, and to the benevolence, for which we have been found to be so excellently furnished and fitted by nature, i.e. under obligation to this conduct, in order to approve ourselves to God; under obligation to it, as the conduct he commands, and will reward. And this being true, this conduct is our duty. And in every sense are we obliged to be virtuous. We shall therefore only add, 1. That the sacred writings give us a very just view of the whole of our duties, arising from our nature, and our relation to our Creator, the Author and Ruler of the universe, when they are reduced there into two commandments, the first of which is to love God, and the other to love mankind; or when it is there asserted that love is the fulfilment of the law of God. And there is no other law which commands every one to love himself, because no one can love himself better than by keeping the law which enjoins love to God and love to our fellow-creatures. Self-love is not so properly a law, as it is a principle inseparable from all beings capable of that reflection, without which they would be incapable of governing their actions, distinguishing rules for their conduct, or pursuing ends. And for this reason the sacred writings do not mention self-love as a law; but they suppose this general desire of happiness as a principle necessarily inherent in us, which is to be directed by reason, i.e. by such rules or laws as reason is able to discover, by due attention to the relations and connexions of things. And these rules it justly reduces sometimes to two, the love of God, and the love of mankind; and sometimes to one general law, love. 2. Yet it may very justly be said, that the whole of our duty consists in well regulated self-love, or in the pursuit of our true happiness. For our greatest happiness consists, by our constitution, in such government of our affections by reason as hath been described, in the exercises of devotion towards God, and the approbation of our moral sense or conscience. As our duties cannot be inferred but from the internal principles of action implanted by the Author of nature in our minds, and the connexions relative to them; so indeed no commands repugnant to our internal principle, and the connexions relative to them,The harmony of this account of our nature and duties with the scripture doctrine. repugnant to what the Author of nature hath placed our happiness and perfection in, can come from the Author of nature. Now, the two great commands which revelation tells us are the whole of human duty, the whole of religion and virtue, love to God, and love to mankind, are the very laws which our constitution prescribes, or makes necessary to be observed by us in all our conduct, in order to attain to the greatest happiness our nature is capable of. They are indicated or pointed out to us by nature with so much clearness, that we may see plainly, that if any man is ignorant of them, it is only because he does not know himself, or does not reflect upon the frame of his mind, and turn his eyes inward to consider the internal principles of action with which he is endued; and therefore nothing is more astonishing than the blindness that hinders any one from seeing them. 3. Tho’ many disputes have been raised about the meaning of, as, in the divine commandment, to love our neighbour as ourself,28 by those who like jangling; yet it plainly means the same with that other precept, to do as we would be done by; the equity of which is so plain, that it hath been acknowledged in all ages and countries of the world as a most perfect summary of all the duties we can owe one to another, and to be a directory, which cannot be applied in any case, without immediately perceiving, or rather feeling what we ought to do. This Grotius, Puffendorf, and Barbeyrac, have fully proved. 4. These two commands have a most strict and intimate alliance. One cannot love God without loving mankind; nor love mankind, and having an idea of an infinitely good supreme Being, the Creator of all things, and the common Father of mankind, not love this all-perfect Being. And the best security men can have for their living together in harmony and love, is from the prevalence of true religion, or of a just notion of a supreme Being, and due regard to his will and authority, among them. It is, in its nature or tendency, the strongest bond of society. And from experience, or the history of mankind, there is reason to say with Cicero, “I know not, but that upon taking away religion and piety, all faith and society of human kind, and even the most excellent of virtues, justice, would soon leave the world.”29
Upon the whole therefore, when we proceed from considering the constitution of the human mind, and the connexions and relations of things respecting man, to the contemplation of the supreme Author of mankind and of these connexions, and of the whole frame of things, we have good ground to conclude, with the same antient, in a passage of his books de republica, preserved to us by Lactantius. “There is indeed a law agreeable to nature, and founded in it, which is no other than right reason, made known to all men, constant and immutable, that calls us to duty by commands, and deters us from fraud and villany by threats; neither are its commands and threats in vain to the good, tho’ they may make but little impression upon the wicked and corrupt. This law we can neither disannul nor diminish; nor is it possible that it should be totally reversed; the senate or the people cannot free us from its authority. Nor do we need any explainer of it besides our own consciences. It will not be different at Rome and at Athens, now or hereafter, but will eternally and unchangeably bind all persons in all places; God himself, the universal Master and King, being its Founder and Author. ’Tis He who is the Establisher, the Enactor, the Interpreter of this law; which, whosoever refuses to obey, shall be afraid to look into his own mind, or converse with himself, because he contemns and vilifies his nature; and shall thus undergo the severest penalties, tho’ he should escape every thing else which falls under our common name and notion of punishment.”30 And thus I am naturally led to consider the origine and design of civil laws.
These two laws are the foundation of civil laws.Now, we may be very short on this head. For, having found what are the laws and rules men must observe, in order to attain to the greatest perfection and happiness their nature is capable of, it is plain, that the rules and laws they ought to observe, or agree to observe, when they unite together in certain civil or political bodies for the promotion of their common happiness, can be no other than those very laws of nature which have been delineated. And it is very easy to trace the civil laws in well regulated states into the principles above explained as their foundations. The laws of a civil or political state may be divided into these three classes; the laws relating to the private property, quiet and happiness of persons; the laws relating to religion; and those which concern the public order of the government. The first comprehends the laws which regulate covenants or contracts of all kinds, the security of property, alienation and prescription, regular propagation and education, guardianships, successions, testaments, and other matters of the like nature. Now, all these laws are, or ought to be nothing else in their spirit, but the order of that love which we reciprocally owe to one another. Thus the spirit and substance of all the laws, with regard to engagements or covenants, consists in forbidding all infidelity, treachery, double dealing, deceit and knavery, and all other ways of doing hurt and wrong. Thus the regular propagation and education of mankind, or the natural order in which our benevolence ought to exert itself, are the foundation of all the laws relating to marriage, and to parental and filial duties, and to unlawful conjunctions. The same is likewise the foundation of the laws relative to successions. For the order of successions is founded on the necessity of continuing and transmitting the state of society from one generation to another; which is done, by making certain persons to succeed in the place of those who die, and enter upon their rights and offices, their relations and engagements, which are capable of passing to posterity. Good laws of this kind have their foundation on the order in which our benevolence ought to exert itself in parents to children, and reciprocally in children to parents; and on that perfect security of property which is necessary to encourage industry; for men are spurred to industry, not merely by regard to themselves, but by regard to their posterity; and would be very indifferent about making acquisitions, were they not sure of disposing of them as they please, and of transmitting them after they are gone to those they love best, and are most nearly interested in. Many other laws have their foundation in the same principles, and are merely intended to secure the perpetuity of property, such as the regulations about prescription; or to render contracts of various sorts about labour and property equally free and certain. Sumptuary laws have their foundation likewise in the care that parents ought to have of making and leaving suitable provisions to their children; and, in general, in the necessity of promoting industry, and discouraging that idleness, effeminacy and debauchery, which is known to be the source of so many direful ills, and the greatest bane of mankind; the very reverse of all that renders human society either great or happy.
The laws of religion, under which we may comprehend all regulations with regard to education, the main design of which is to tincture the mind early with just notions of God and of human duties, and to form good habits and dispositions; as well as regulations about public worship: these have their foundation in the strict alliance between religion and virtue, in the chief duty of pa-rents towards their children, and in the general interest of society, which is universal virtue.
The public laws are those which fix or regulate the order of making, and of executing laws for the general good. And what these ought to be, must likewise be determined from the nature of mankind, and of that happiness which they are made and intended for by nature. Men may very properly be said to be intended for that civil state, in which, it is plain, from experience, the happiness for which mankind are formed by nature, may be best attained. And the orders of such a civil state must be deduced from the lines of them, as a great author expresses it, which appear in human nature. It is according to them, says he, that this building must be limned. But we are not now to enter into this curious and important enquiry. All we would take notice of, with regard to the civil laws, which it is the design of civil society to make and execute, is, 1. That in all well-regulated states, the sum and substance of what is called its civil laws, are really laws of natural and universal obligation. Whatever hath the force of civil law in civil courts, derives that force from civil authority. Yet the chief part of civil law is really natural law. What belongs particularly to the civil law, may be reduced, as Pufendorff observes, to these two heads: To certain forms prescribed, and certain methods to be observed in civil affairs, either in transferring rights, or else in laying obligations upon persons, which shall be looked upon to be valid in the civil courts; and to the several ways how a man is to prosecute his rights in the same courts.31 So that if we give the law of nature all that belongs to it, and take away from the Civilians what they have hitherto promiscuously treated of, we shall bring the civil law to a much narrower compass than it at first sight appears to be. In all commonwealths the natural law supplies the defects of the civil. And in all commonwealths natural law ought to be the substance of the civil law; and the regulations it adds about things which the law of nature prescribes only in a general and indefinite manner, ought to be conformable to the spirit and scope of the law of nature. For which reason, Hobbes calls the law of nature the unwritten civil law;32 and the constitutions of particular commonwealths, justly adapted to the public good, (which, as Cicero says, ought to be the end of all laws, and is the best comment upon, and interpretation of them)33 are properly called, by some authors, appendages to the law of nature. 2. But all the laws of nature have not the force of civil laws allowed them in commonwealths; but such only, upon the observation of which the common quiet of mankind intirely depends; as well because the controversies about the violation of them would be very perplexed and intricate, as to prevent the multiplication of litigious suits; and also, that the good and virtuous might not be deprived of the most valuable part of their character, the doing well out of reverence to their Creator, and sincere love to mankind, without regard to the fears of human penalties. For this they must necessarily lose, when there is no distinction made whether a man doth well out of love to virtue, or out of fear of punishment. 3. Civil laws are justly said to respect external actions only, whereas moral laws principally regard the habit of the mind, because civil punishments can only be applied against what appears. Yet it is an antient and true observation, that the best and most useful laws, and which are approved of by all such as are subject to them, are of no use, unless subjects be trained up and educated in a manner of living conformable to them. Plato says, that to lay the foundations of a good government, we must first begin by the education of children, and must make them as virtuous as possible; as an experienced gardiner employs his care about the young and tender plants, and then goes on to others.34
Isocrates (in Areopagit.) tells us, “The Athenians did not believe that virtue derived so much advantage and assistance in its growth from good statutes as from custom and practice. The greatest part of men must, said they, of necessity frame their minds according to those patterns by which they were first taught and instructed; but a numerous and accurate establishment of laws, is really a sign of the ill condition of the commonwealth, edicts and ordinances being then heap’d upon one another, when governments find themselves obliged to endeavour the restraining of vice, as it were by banks and mounds. That it became wise magistrates, not to fill the public places with proclamations and decrees, but to take care that the subjects should have the love of justice and honesty firmly rooted in their minds. That not the orders of the senate or people, but good and generous education was the thing which made a government happy: Inasmuch as men would venture to break through the nicest exactness of political constitutions, if they had not been bred up under a strict obedience to them. Whereas those who had been formed to virtue by a regular and constant discipline, were the only persons who by their just conformity could make good laws obtain a good effect. The principal design of the Athenians, when they made these reflexions, was not how they might punish disorders, but how they might find a way of making the people to be willing not to do any thing that might deserve punishment. This last view seemed to them worthy of themselves and their employment. But as for the other, or an exact application to punish people, they thought it a business proper only for an enemy. And therefore they took care of all the subjects in general, but particularly of the youth.”36
Thus I have endeavoured to deduce the laws of nature, and the end of civil society and its laws, by an analysis of the human mind, from our internal principles and dispositions. For the virtue or excellence of any being can be nothing else but its nature brought to the perfection of which it is capable. And therefore, the virtue, excellence, or happiness of a being must be deduced from its constitution and situation. Virtus enim in cujusque rei natura supremum est & perfectio.—Tum oculi, in oculi natura, supremum & perfectio; tum hominis in hominis natura supremum & perfectio.—Hominis virtus est hominis naturae perfectio, nam & equi virtus est ea, quae naturam ejus ad supremum perducit.” Timaeus Locrus de anima mundi, & Metopus Pythagoreus de virtute.37 So Cicero de legibus, l. 1. n. 15. & de finibus passim.
[1 ] Joseph Butler, sermon XIII, “Upon the Love of God,” 259, in Butler, Fifteen Sermons Preached at the Rolls Chapel.
[2 ] Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, pp.142-43.
[3 ] “The Gods sell good things in exchange for toil”: Turnbull’s Greek appears not to be accurate, but this is probably a phrase attributed to Epicharmus by Xenophon in his Memorabilia 2.1.20. Xenophon, Memorabilia and Oeconomicus. We are very grateful to Dr. Antony Hatzistavrou for identifying the probable source of this quotation.
[4 ] “So if I’m to be impressed by you and not your heritage, offer me something personal, something I can inscribe in your record of achievement, apart from those titles which we gave and (continue to give) to those men to whom you owe everything” (Juvenal, Juvenal and Persius, Satire 8, lines 68–70).
[5 ] “Some may lean and hearken to our kind.” Turnbull uses a similar phrase in his Observations upon Liberal Education, 99.
[6 ] Presumably Turnbull has Thomas Hobbes in mind, since he denied that a natural sense of benevolence would allow for man’s security and happiness. See Leviathan, chap. 13.
[7 ] “I’m human, and I regard no human business as other people’s”: Terence, The Self-tormentor (Heauton timoroumenos), act 1, scene 1, line 77, in Terence, vol. 1.
[8 ] Turnbull, Principles of Moral Philosophy.
[9 ] Shaftesbury, An Enquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit , in Shaftesbury, Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times.
[10 ] Pope, An Essay on Man, epistle IV, 56.
[11 ] Turnbull is again criticizing Hobbes and Mandeville. See, for example, Hobbes, Leviathan, chap. 13; Mandeville, “A Search into the Nature of Society,” in The Fable of the Bees, vol. I, 344, and Mandeville, “Dialogue between Horatio, Cleomenes, and Fulvia,” in The Fable of the Bees, vol. II, 132.
[12 ] “Hanging upon him by the teeth.” This phrase is derived from James Harrington’s Oceana: “To begin with riches, in regard that men are hung upon these, not of choice as upon the other [that is, authority], but of necessity and by the teeth: for as much as he who wanteth bread is his servant that will feed him, if a man thus feed an whole people, they are under his empire,” Harrington, Political Works, 163. Harrington distinguishes between “authority” and “power.” The former is based on “prudence, or the reputation of prudence.” Contrary to Hobbes, however, Harrington believes that this authority is insufficient as a basis of political power, which must rest on “riches,” in particular land ownership. See the discussion in Fukuda, Sovereignty and the Sword.
[13 ] Cicero, De officiis 2.7.23–26.
[14 ] Pope, An Essay on Man, epistle IV, 57–60.
[15 ]Auctoritas patrum is the “authority of the fathers,” verecundia plebis the “reverence of the people.” See Harrington, “The Prerogative of Popular Government,” bk. I, chap. v., p. 416, in Political Works.
[16 ] Harrington argued that political power depended on the distribution of wealth, especially landed property. See note 12, p. 583.
[17 ] Pope, Essay on Man, epistle II, 255–56.
[18 ] Ibid., III, 119–38.
[19 ] Butler, Sermon VIII, “Upon Resentment,” Fifteen Sermons, 145. There are minor discrepancies between the original text and Turnbull’s quotation.
[20 ] “Virtue clearly desires honour, and has no other reward.” Cicero De re publica, III, xxviii, 40.
[* ] Principles of moral philosophy.
[21 ] Locke, Thoughts Concerning Education, 127–34.
[22 ] Pope, An Epistle to the Right Honourable Richard Lord Viscount Cobham, 11.
[23 ] Cicero, De officiis 3.21.82. The passage is a Latin translation from Euripides’ play Phoenician Women, lines 524–25, in Euripides, vol. 5.
[24 ] Pope, An Essay on Man, epistle II, 191–202.
[25 ] Jean Domat (1625–96), Les loix civiles dans leur ordre naturel. Turnbull quotes (with near accuracy) from the English translation: The Civil Law in Its Natural Order: Together with the Publick Law, page ii (in both eds.).
[26 ] Francis Hutcheson, An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (London, 1725; 3rd ed. 1729; 4th ed. 1738), pp.9 and 99. Turnbull spliced together two separate passages and also inserted a few words of his own. He used either the third or the fourth edition.
[27 ] In his Principles of Moral Philosophy of 1740.
[28 ] For the golden rule, see Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31.
[29 ] “Atque haud scio an pietate adversus deos sublata fides etiam et societas generis humani et una excellentissima virtus iustitia tollatur” (Cicero, De natura deorum, I, 4).
[30 ] This is from Cicero’s De re publica (see Cicero, De re publica, xxii, 33). Until a major part was found in 1819, this work of Cicero was known only in the form of few and brief quotations, especially by patristic authors such as Lactantius.
[31 ] See Pufendorf, Of the Law of Nature, VIII.I.I.
[32 ] “Civill, and Naturall Law are not different kinds, but different parts of Law; whereof one part being written, is called Civill, the other unwritten, Naturall” (Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, chap. 26).
[33 ] Perhaps a reference to Cicero’s statement in De legibus that “the well-being of the people should be the supreme law” (“salus populi suprema lex esto”); see Cicero, De legibus, III, iii, 8, in De re publica; De legibus.
[34 ] The importance of children’s education for the political community was a central theme in Plato’s Republic. See in particular the passages from 376d.
[35 ] “What use are laws, vain as they are without morals?” Horace, Odes, 3.24.35–36, in Odes and Epodes.
[36 ] Isocrates, Areopagiticus, 182–83, in Isocrates, Opera omnia, vol. II, 174–91.
[37 ] This quote is in fact from Hippodamus Thurius, Peri eudaimonias: “For virtue is the highest level and the perfection in the nature of everything. The highest level and the perfection of the eye is in the nature of the eye. The highest level and the perfection in a man is in the nature of a man.” In Gale, Opuscula mythologica, physica et ethica, 660. It is also used by Turnbull in his Principles of Moral Philosophy, vol. I, 185.