Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION VII - A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations
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SECTION VII - Johann Gottlieb Heineccius, A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations 
A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations, with Supplements and a Discourse by George Turnbull. Translated from the Latin by George Turnbull, edited with an Introduction by Thomas Albert and Peter Schröder (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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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.