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chapter vii: Social Duties of the Political Kind - David Fordyce, The Elements of Moral Philosophy 
The Elements of Moral Philosophy, in Three Books with a Brief Account of the Nature, Progress, and Origin of Philosophy, ed. Thomas Kennedy (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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Social Duties of the Political Kind
We are now arrived at the last and highest Order of Duties respecting Society, which result from the Exercise of the most generous and heroic Affections, and are founded on our most enlarged Connections.
Political ConnectionsThe Social Principle in Man is of such an expansive Nature, that it cannot be confined within the Circuit of a Family, of Friends, or a Neighbourhood: it spreads into wider Systems, and draws Men into larger Confederacies, Communities, and Commonwealths.—It is in these only that the higher Powers of our Nature attain the highest Improvement and Perfection of which they are capable. These Principles hardly find Objects in the solitary State of Nature. There the Principle of Action rises no higher at farthest than Natural Affection towards one’s Offspring. There Personal or Family wants entirely engross the Creature’s Attention and Labour, and allow no Leisure, or, if they did, no Exercise for Views and Affections of a more enlarged kind. In Solitude all are employed in the same way, in providing for the Animal Life. And even after their utmost Labour and Care, single and unaided by the Industry of others, they find but a sorry Supply of their Wants, and a feeble, precarious Security against Dangers from wild Beasts; from inclement Skies and Seasons; from the Mistakes or petulant Passions of their Fellow-creatures; from their Preference of themselves to their Neighbours; and from all the little Exorbitances of Self-love. But in Society, the mutual Aids which Men give and receive, shorten the Labours of each, and the combined Strength and Reason of Individuals give Security and Protection to the whole Body. There is both a Variety and Subordination of Genius among Mankind. Some are formed to lead and direct others, to contrive Plans of Happiness for Individuals, and of Government for Communities, to take in a public Interest, invent Laws and Arts, and superintend their Execution, and in short, to refine and civilize human Life. Others, who have not such good Heads, may have as honest Hearts, a truly public Spirit, Love of Liberty, Hatred of Corruption and Tyranny, a generous Submission to Laws, Order, and Public Institutions, and an extensive Philanthropy. And others, who have none of those Capacities either of Heart or Head, may be well-formed for Manual Exercises and Bodily Labour. The former of these Principles have no Scope in Solitude, where a Man’s Thoughts and Concerns do all either center in himself, or extend no farther than a Family; into which little Circle all the Duty and Virtue of the Solitary Mortal is crouded. But Society finds proper Objects and Exercises for every Genius, and the noblest Objects and Exercises for the noblest Geniuses, and for the highest Principles in the human Constitution: particularly for that warmest and most divine Passion, which God hath kindled in our Bosoms, the Inclination of doing good and reverencing our Nature; which may find here both Employment, and the most exquisite Satisfaction. In Society a Man has not only more Leisure, but better Opportunities of applying his Talents with much greater Perfection and Success, especially as he is furnished with the joint Advice and Assistance of his Fellow-creatures, who are now more closely united one with the other, and sustain a common Relation to the same Moral System, or Community. This then is an Object proportioned to his most enlarged Social Affections, and in serving it he finds Scope for the Exercise and Refinement of his highest Intellectual and Moral Powers. ThereforeSociety, or a State of Civil Government, rests on these two principal Pillars, “That in it we find Security against those Evils which are unavoidable in Solitude—and obtain those Goods, some of which cannot be obtained at all, and others not so well in that State, where Men depend solely on their individual Sagacity and Industry.”
From this short Detail it appears that Man is a Social Creature, and formed for a Social State; and that Society, being adapted to the higher Principles and Destinations of his Nature, must, of necessity, be his Natural State.
Political DutiesThe Duties suited to that State, and resulting from those Principles and Destinations, or in other Words, from our Social Passions and Social Connections, or Relation to a Public System, are Love of our Country, Resignation and Obedience to the Laws, Public Spirit, Love of Liberty, Sacrifice of Life and all to the Public, and the like.
Love of one’s CountryLove of our Country is one of the noblest Passions that can warm and animate the human Breast. It includes all the limited and particular Affections to our Parents, Children, Friends, Neighbours, Fellow-Citizens, Countrymen. It ought to direct and limit their more confined and partial Action within their proper and natural Bounds, and never let them encroach on those sacred and first Regards we owe to the great Public to which we belong. Were we solitary Creatures, detached from the rest of Mankind, and without any Capacity of comprehending a public Interest, or without Affections, leading us to desire and pursue it, it would not be our Duty to mind it, nor criminal to neglect it. But, as we are Parts of the Public System, and are not only capable of taking in large Views of its Interests, but by the strongest Affections connected with it, and prompted to take a Share of its Concerns, we are under the most sacred Ties to prosecute its Security and Welfare with the utmost Ardor, especially in times of public Trial. This Love of our Country does not import an Attachment to any particular Soil, Climate, or Spot of Earth, where perhaps we first drew our Breath, though those Natural Ideas are often associated with the Moral ones; and, like external Signs or Symbols, help to ascertain and bind them; but it imports an Affection to that Moral System, or Community, which is governed by the same Laws and Magistrates, and whose several Parts are variously connected one with the other, and all united upon the Bottom of a common Interest. Perhaps indeed every Member of the Community cannot comprehend so large an Object, especially if it extends through large Provinces, and over vast Tracts of Land; and still less can he form such an Idea, if there is no Public, i.e. if all are subjected to the Caprice and unlimited Will of one Man; but the Preference the Generality shew to their native Country; the Concern and Longing after it which they express, when they have been long absent from it; the Labours they undertake and Sufferings they endure to save or serve it; and the peculiar Attachment they have to their Country-men, evidently demonstrate that the Passion is natural, and never fails to exert itself, when it is fairly disengaged from foreign Clogs, and is directed to its proper Object. Wherever it prevails in its genuine Vigour and Extent, it swallows up all sordid and selfish Regards, it conquers the Love of Ease, Power, Pleasure, and Wealth; nay, when the amiable Partialities of Friendship, Gratitude, private Affection, or Regards to a Family, come in Competition with it, it will teach us bravely to sacrifice all, in order to maintain the Rights and promote or defend the Honour and Happiness of our Country.
Resignation and Obedience to the Laws, &c.Resignation and Obedience to the Laws and Orders of the Society to which we belong, are Political Duties necessary to its very Being and Security, without which it must soon degenerate into a State of Licence and Anarchy. The Welfare, nay, the Nature of Civil Society, requires that there should be a Subordination of Orders, or Diversity of Ranks and Conditions in it;—that certain Men, or Orders of Men, be appointed to super-intend and manage such Affairs as concern the Public Safety and Happiness;—that all have their particular Provinces assigned them;—that such a Subordination be settled among them, as none of them may interfere with another;—and finally, that certain Rules, or common Measures of Action, be agreed on, by which each is to discharge his respective Duty to govern or be governed, and all may concur in securing the Order and promoting the Felicity of the whole Political Body. Those Rules of Action are the Laws of the Community, and those different Orders are the several Officers, or Magistrates, appointed by the Public to explain them, and super-intend or assist in their Execution. In consequence of this Settlement of Things, it is the Duty of each Individual to obey the Laws enacted, to submit to the Executors of them with all due Deference and Homage, according to their respective Ranks and Dignity, as to the Keepers of the Public Peace, and the Guardians of Public Liberty; to maintain his own Rank, and perform the Functions of his own Station with Diligence, Fidelity, and Incorruption. The Superiority of the higher Orders, or the Authority with which the State has invested them, entitle them, especially if they employ their Authority well, to the Obedience and Submission of the lower, and to a proportionable Honour and Respect from all. The Subordination of the lower Ranks claims Protection, Defence, and Security, from the higher. And the Laws, being superior to all, require the Obedience and Submission of all, being the last Resort, beyond which there is no Decision or Appeal.—Besides these natural and stated Subordinations in Society, there are others accidental and artificial, the Opulent and Indigent, the Great and the Vulgar, the Ingenious and Prudent, and those who are less so. The Opulent are to administer to the Necessities of the Indigent, and the Indigent to return the Fruits of their Labours to the Opulent. The Great ought to defend and patronize their Dependents and Inferiors, and They in their turn, to return their combined Strength and Assistance to the Great. The Prudent should improve the Ingenuities of the Mind for the Benefit of the Industrious, and the Industrious lend the Dexterities of their Strength for the Advantage of the Prudent.
Foundation of Public Spirit, Love of Liberty, &c.Public Spirit, Heroic Zeal, Love of Liberty, and the other Political Duties, do, above all others, recommend those who practise them to the Admiration and Homage of Mankind; because as they are the Offspring of the noblest Minds, so are they the Parents of the greatest Blessings to Society. Yet exalted as they are, it is only in equal and free Governments, where they can be exercised and have their due Effect. For there only does a true Public prevail, and there only is the Public Good made the Standard of the Civil Constitution. As the End of Society is the Common Interest and Welfare of the People associated, this End must, of necessity, be the Supreme Law or Common Standard, by which the particular Rules of Action of the several Members of the Society towards each other are to be regulated. But a common Interest can be no other than that which is the Result of the common Reason, or common Feelings of all. Private Men, or a particular Order of Men, have Interests and Feelings peculiar to themselves, and of which they may be good Judges; but these may be separate from, and often contrary to the Interests and Feelings of the rest of the Society; and therefore they can have no Right to make, and much less to impose, Laws on their Fellow-Citizens, inconsistent with, and opposite to those Interests and those Feelings. Therefore a Society, a Government, or real Public, truly worthy the Name, and not a Confederacy of Banditti, a Clan of lawless Savages, or a Band of Slaves under the Whip of a Master, must be such a one as consists of Freemen, chusing or consenting to Laws themselves; or, since it often happens that they cannot assemble and act in a Collective Body, delegating a sufficient Number of Representatives, i.e. such a Number as shall most fully comprehend, and most equally represent, their common Feelings and common Interests, to digest and vote Laws for the Conduct and Controul of the whole Body, the most agreeable to those common Feelings and common Interests.
Political Duties of every CitizenA Society thus constituted by common Reason, and formed on the Plan of a common Interest, becomes immediately an Object of public Attention, public Veneration, public Obedience, a public and inviolable Attachment, which ought neither to be seduced by Bribes, nor awed by Terrors; an Object, in fine, of all those extensive and important Duties which arise from so glorious a Confederacy. To watch over such a System; to contribute all he can to promote its Good by his Reason, his Ingenuity, his Strength, and every other Ability, whether Natural or Acquired; to resist, and, to the utmost of his Power, defeat every Incroachment upon it, whether carried on by secret Corruption, or open Violence; and to sacrifice his Ease, his Wealth, his Power, nay Life itself, and what is dearer still, his Family and Friends, to defend or save it, is the Duty, the Honour, the Interest, and the Happiness of every Citizen; it will make him venerable and beloved while he lives, be lamented and honoured if he falls in so glorious a Cause, and transmit his Name with immortal Renown to the latest Posterity.
Of the PeopleAs the People are the Fountain of Power and Authority, the original Seat of Majesty, the Authors of Laws, and the Creators of Officers to execute them; if they shall find the Power they have conferred abused by their Trustees, their Majesty violated by Tyranny, or by Usurpation, their Authority prostituted to support Violence, or screen Corruption, the Laws grown pernicious through Accidents unforeseen, or unavoidable, or rendered ineffectual thro’ the Infidelity and Corruption of the Executors of them; then it is their Right, and what is their Right is their Duty, to resume that delegated Power, and call their Trustees to an Account; to resist the Usurpation, and extirpate the Tyranny; to restore their sullied Majesty and prostituted Authority; to suspend, alter, or abrogate those Laws, and punish their unfaithful and corrupt Officers. Nor is it the Duty only of the united Body, but every Member of it ought, according to his respective Rank, Power, and Weight in the Community, to concur in advancing and supporting those glorious Designs.
Of BritonsThe Obligations of every Briton to fulfil the political Duties, receive a vast Accession of Strength, when he calls to mind of what a noble and well-balanced Constitution of Government he has the Honour to partake; a Constitution founded on common Reason, common Consent, and common Good; a Constitution of free and equal Laws, secured against arbitrary Will and popular Licence, by an admirable Temperament of the governing Powers, controuling and controuled by one another. How must every one who has tolerable Understanding to observe, or tolerable Honesty to acknowledge its happy Effects, venerate and love a Constitution, in which the Majesty of the People is, and has been frequently recognized; in which Kings are made and unmade by the Choice of the People; Laws enacted or annulled only by their own Consent, and for their own Good, in which none can be deprived of their Property, abridged of their Freedom, or forfeit their Lives, without an Appeal to the Laws, and the Verdict of their Peers or Equals; a Constitution, in fine, the Nurse of Heroes, the Parent of Liberty, the Patron of Learning and Arts, the Dominion of Laws, “the Pride of Britain, the Envy of her Neighbours, and their Sanctuary too!”—How dissolute and execrable must their Character and Conduct be, who, instead of sacrificing their Interest and Ambition, will not part with the least Degree of either, to preserve inviolate, and entail in full Vigour to their Posterity, such a glorious Constitution, the Labour of so many Ages, and Price of so much Blood and Treasure; but would chuse rather to sacrifice it, and all their own Independency, Freedom, and Dignity, to personal Power and hollow Grandeur, to any little Pageant of a King, who should prefer being the Master of Slaves to being the Guardian of Freemen, and consider himself as the Proprietor, not the Father of his People!—But Words cannot express the Selfishness and Servility of those Men; and as little the public and heroic Spirit of such, if any such there are, as have Virtue enough still left to stem the Torrent of Corruption, and guard our sacred Constitution against the Profligacy and Prostitution of the Corruptors and the Corrupted.
Duty to God
Divine ConnectionsOf all the Relations which the human Mind sustains, that which subsists between the Creator and his Creatures, the supreme Lawgiver and his Subjects, is the highest and the best. This Relation arises from the Nature of a Creature in general, and the Constitution of the human Mind in particular; the noblest Powers and Affections of which point to an universal Mind, and would be imperfect and abortive without such a Direction. How lame then must that System of Morals be, which leaves a Deity out of the Question! How disconsolate, and how destitute of its firmest Support!
Existence of GodIt does not appear, from any true History or Experience of the Mind’s Progress, that any Man by any formal Deduction of his discursive Powers, ever reasoned himself into the Belief of a God. Whether such a Belief is only some natural Anticipation of Soul, or is derived from Father to Son, and from one Man to another, in the Way of Tradition, or is suggested to us in consequence of an immutable Law of our Nature, on beholding the august Aspect and beautiful Order of the Universe, we will not pretend to determine. What seems most agreeable to Experience is, that a Sense of its Beauty and Grandeur, and the admirable Fitness of one thing to another in its vast Apparatus, leads the Mind necessarily and unavoidably to a Perception of Design, or of a designing Cause, the Origin of all, by a Progress as simple and natural, as that by which a beautiful Picture, or a fine Building, suggests to us the Idea of an excellent Artist. For it seems to hold universally true, that wherever we discern a Tendency, or Co-operation of Things, towards a certain End, or producing a common Effect, there, by a necessary Law of Association, we apprehend Design, a designing Energy, or Cause. No matter whether the Objects are natural or artificial, still that Suggestion is unavoidable, and the Connection between the Effect and its adequate Cause, obtrudes itself on the Mind, and it requires no nice Search or elaborate Deduction of Reason, to trace or prove that Connection. We are particularly satisfied of its Truth in the Subject before us, by a kind of direct Intuition, and we do not seem to attend to the Maxim we learn in Schools, “That there cannot be an infinite Series of Causes and Effects producing and produced by one another.” Nor do we feel a great Accession of Light and Conviction after we have learned it. We are conscious of our Existence, of Thought, Sentiment, and Passion, and sensible withal that these came not of ourselves, therefore we immediately recognize a Parent-Mind, an Original Intelligence, from whom we borrowed those little Portions of Thought and Activity. And while we not only feel kind Affections in ourselves, and discover them in others, but likewise behold all round us such a Number and Variety of Creatures, endued with Natures nicely adjusted to their several Stations and Oeconomies, supporting and supported by each other, and all sustained by a common Order of Things, and sharing different Degrees of Happiness, according to their respective Capacities, we are naturally and necessarily led up to the Father of such a numerous Offspring, the Fountain of such widespread Happiness. As we conceive this Being before all, above all, and greater than all, we naturally, and without Reasoning, ascribe to him every kind of Perfection, Wisdom, Power, and Goodness without Bounds, existing through all Time, and pervading all Space.His Relation to the human Mind We apply to him those glorious Epithets of our Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, the supreme Lord and Law-giver of the whole Society of rational intelligent Creatures.—Not only the Imperfections and Wants of our Being and Condition, but some of the noblest Instincts and Affections of our Minds, connect us with this great and universal Nature. The Mind, in its Progress from Object to Object, from one Character and Prospect of Beauty to another, finds some Blemish or Deficiency in each, and soon exhausts or grows weary and dissatisfied with its Subject; it sees no Character of Excellency among Men, equal to that Pitch of Esteem which it is capable of exerting; no Object within the Compass of human Things adequate to the Strength of its Affection. Nor can it stop any where in this self-expansive Progress, or find Repose after its highest Flights, till it arrives at a Being of unbounded Greatness and Worth, on whom it may employ its sublimest Powers without exhausting the Subject, and give Scope to the utmost Force and Fulness of its Love, without Satiety or Disgust. So that the Nature of this Being corresponds to the Nature of Man; nor can his intelligent and moral Powers obtain their entire End, but on the Supposition of such a Being, and without a real Sympathy and Communication with him. The native Propensity of the Mind to reverence whatever is great and wonderful in Nature, finds a proper Object of Homage in him who spread out the Heavens and the Earth, and who sustains and governs the Whole of Things. The Admiration of Beauty, the Love of Order, and the Complacency we feel in Goodness, must rise to the highest Pitch, and attain the full Vigour and Joy of their Operations, when they unite in him who is the Sum and Source of all Perfection.
Immorality of ImpietyIt is evident from the slightest Survey of Morals, that how punctual soever one may be in performing the Duties which result from our Relations to Mankind; yet to be quite deficient in performing those which arise from our Relation to the Almighty, must argue a strange Perversion of Reason or Depravity of Heart. If imperfect Degrees of Worth attract our Veneration, and if the Want of it would imply an Insensibility, or, which is worse, an Aversion to Merit, what Lameness of Affection and Immorality of Character must it be to be unaffected with, and much more to be ill-affected to a Being of superlative Worth! To love Society, or particular Members of it, and yet to have no Sense of our Connection with its Head, no Affection to our common Parent and Benefactor; to be concerned about the Approbation or Censure of our Fellow-Creatures, and yet to feel nothing of this kind towards Him who sees and weighs our Actions with unerring Wisdom and Justice, and can fully reward or punish them, betrays equal Madness and Partiality of Mind. It is plain therefore beyond all doubt, that some Regards are due to the great Father of all, in whom every lovely and adorable Quality combines to inspire Veneration and Homage.
Right Opinions of GodAs it has been observed already, that our Affections depend on our Opinions of their Objects, and generally keep pace with them, it must be of the highest Importance, and seems to be among the first Duties we owe to the Author of our Being, “to form the least imperfect, since we cannot form perfect, Conceptions of his Character and Administration.” For such Conceptions thoroughly imbibed, will render our Religion rational, and our Dispositions refined. If our Opinions are diminutive and distorted, our Religion will be superstitious, and our Temper abject. Thus, if we ascribe to the Deity that false Majesty, which consists in the unbenevolent and sullen Exercise of mere Will or Power, or suppose him to delight in the Prostrations of servile Fear, or as servile Praise, he will be worshiped with mean Adulation, and a Profusion of Compliments. Farther, if he be looked upon as a stern and implacable Being, delighting in Vengeance, he will be adored with pompous Offerings, Sacrifices, or whatever else might be thought proper to sooth and mollify him. But if we believe perfect Goodness to be the Character of the Supreme Being, and that he loves those most who resemble him most, the Worship paid him will be rational and sublime, and his Worshipers will seek to please him, by imitating that Goodness which they adore.
Rational FaithThe Foundation then of all true Religion is rational Faith. And of a rational Faith these seem to be the chief Articles, to believe, “that an infinite all-perfect Mind exists, who has no opposite nor any separate Interest from that of his Creatures,—that he super-intends and governs all Creatures and Things,—that his Goodness extends to all his Creatures, in different Degrees indeed, according to their respective Natures, but without any Partiality or Envy,—that he does every thing for the best, or in a Subserviency to the Perfection and Happiness of the Whole,—particularly, that he directs and governs the Affairs of Men,—inspects their Actions,—distinguishes the Good from the Bad,—loves and befriends the former,—is displeased with and pities the latter in this World,—and will, according to their respective Deserts, reward one and punish the other in the next;—that, in fine, he is always carrying on a Scheme of Virtue and Happiness through an unlimited Duration,—and is ever guiding the Universe through its successive Stages and Periods, to higher Degrees of Perfection and Felicity.” This is true Theism, the glorious Scheme of divine Faith; a Scheme exhibited in all the Works of God, and executed through his whole Administration.
Morality of TheismThis Faith well founded, and deeply felt, is nearly connected with a true moral Taste, and hath a powerful Efficacy on the Temper and Manners of the Theist. He who admires Goodness in others, and delights in the Practice of it, must be conscious of a reigning Order within, a Rectitude and Candor of Heart, which disposes him to entertain favourable Apprehensions of Men, and from an impartial Survey of things, to presume that good Order and good Meaning prevail in the Universe; and if good Meaning and good Order, then an ordering, an intending Mind, who is no Enemy, no Tyrant to his Creatures, but a Friend, a Benefactor, an indulgent Sovereign.
Immorality of AtheismOn the other hand, a bad Man, having nothing goodly or generous to contemplate within, no right Intentions, nor Honesty of Heart, suspects every Person and every Thing, and beholding Nature thro’ the Gloom of a selfish and guilty Mind, is either averse to the Belief of a reigning Order, or, if he cannot suppress the unconquerable Anticipations of a governing Mind, he is prone to tarnish the Beauty of Nature, and to impute Malevolence, or Blindness and Impotence at least to the Sovereign Ruler. He turns the Universe into a forlorn and horrid Waste, and transfers his own Character to the Deity, by ascribing to him that uncommunicative Grandeur, that arbitrary or revengeful Spirit which he affects or admires in himself. As such a Temper of Mind naturally leads to Atheism, or to a Superstition full as bad; therefore as far as that Temper depends on the unhappy Creature in whom it prevails, the Propensity to Atheism or Superstition consequent thereto, must be immoral. Farther, if it be true that the Belief or Sense of a Deity is natural to the Mind, and the Evidence of his Existence reflected from his Works so full, as to strike even the most superficial Observer with Conviction, then the supplanting or corrupting that Sense, or the Want of due Attention to that Evidence, and in consequence of both, a supine Ignorance, or affected Unbelief of a Deity, must argue a bad Temper, or an immoral Turn of Mind. In the case of invincible Ignorance, or a very bad Education, though nothing can be concluded directly against the Character, yet whenever ill Passions and Habits pervert the Judgment, and by perverting the Judgment terminate in Atheism, then the Case becomes plainly criminal.
The Connection of Theism and VirtueBut let Casuists determine this as they will, a true Faith in the divine Character and Administration, is generally the Consequence of a virtuous State of Mind. The Man who is truly and habitually good, feels the Love of Order, of Beauty, and Goodness, in the strongest Degree, and therefore cannot be insensible to those Emanations of them which appear in all the Works of God, nor help loving their supreme Sourceand Model. He cannot but think, that he who has poured such Beauty and Goodness over all his Works, must himself delight in Beauty and Goodness, and what he delights in must be both amiable and happy. Some indeed there are, and it is Pity there should be any such, who, through the unhappy Influence of a wrong Education, have entertained dark and unfriendly Thoughts of a Deity, and his Administration, though otherwise of a virtuous Temper themselves. However it must be acknowledged, that such Sentiments have, for the most part, a bad Effect on the Temper; and when they have not, it is because the undepraved Affections of an honest Heart are more powerful in their Operation, than the speculative Opinions of an ill-formed Head.
Duties of Gratitude, Love, &c.But wherever right Conceptions of the Deity and his Providence prevail, when he is considered as the inexhausted Source of Light, and Love, and Joy, as acting in the joint Character of a Father and Governor, imparting an endless Variety of Capacities to his Creatures, and supplying them with every thing necessary to their full Completion and Happiness, what Veneration and Gratitude must such Conceptions thoroughly believed, excite in the Mind! How natural and delightful must it be to one whose Heart is open to the Perception of Truth, and of every thing fair, great, and wonderful in Nature, to contemplate and adore him, who is the first fair, the first great, and first wonderful; in whom Wisdom, Power, and Goodness, dwell vitally, essentially, originally, and act in perfect Concert! What Grandeur is here to fill the most enlarged Capacity, what Beauty to engage the most ardent Love, what a Mass of Wonders in such Exuberance of Perfection to astonish and delight the human Mind through an unfailing Duration!
Other AffectionsIf the Deity is considered as our supreme Guardian and Benefactor, as the Father of Mercies, who loves his Creatures with infinite Tenderness, and, in a particular manner, all good Men, nay, who delights in Goodness, even in its most imperfect Degrees; what Resignation, what Dependence, what generous Confidence, what Hope in God, and his all-wise Providence, must arise in the Soul that is possessed of such amiable Views of him? All those Exercises of Piety, and above all a superlative Esteem and Love, are directed to God as to their natural, their ultimate, and indeed their only adequate Object; and though the immense Obligations we have received from him, may excite in us more lively Feelings of divine Goodness than a general and abstracted Contemplation of it, yet the Affections of Gratitude and Love are themselves of the generous disinterested kind, not the Result of Self-interest, or Views of Reward.* A perfect Character, in which we always suppose infinite Goodness, guided by unerring Wisdom, and supported by Almighty Power, is the proper Object of perfect Love; and tho’ that Character sustains to us the Relation of a Benefactor, yet the Mind, deeply struck with that Perfection, is quite lost amidst such a Blaze of Beauty, and grows as it were insensible to those minuter Irradiations of it upon itself. To talk therefore of a mercenary Love of God, or which has Fear for its principal Ingredient, is equally impious and absurd. If we do not love the loveliest Object in the Universe for his own Sake, no Prospect of Good or Fear of Ill can ever bribe our Esteem, or captivate our Love. These Affections are too noble to be bought or sold, or bartered in the way of Gain; Worth, or Merit, is their Object, and their Reward is something similar in kind. Whoever indulges such Sentiments and Affections towards the Deity, must be confirmed in the Love of Virtue, in a Desire to imitate its all-perfect Pattern, and in a chearful Security that all his great Concerns, those of his Friends, and of the Universe, shall be absolutely safe under the Conduct of unerring Wisdom, and unbounded Goodness. It is in his Care and Providence alone that the good Man, who is anxious for the Happiness of all, finds perfect Serenity, a Serenity neither ruffled by partial Ill, nor soured by private Disappointment.
Repentance, &c.When we consider the unstained Purity and absolute Perfection of the Divine Nature, and reflect withal on the Imperfection and various Blemishes of our own, we must sink, or be convinced we ought to sink, into the deepest Humility and Prostration of Soul before him, who is so wonderfully great and holy. When farther, we call to mind what low and languid Feelings we have of the Divine Presence and Majesty, what Insensibility of his fatherly and universal Goodness, nay what ungrateful Returns we have made to it, how far we come short of the Perfection of his Law, and the Dignity of our own Nature, how much we have indulged to the selfish Passions, and how little to the benevolent ones, we must be conscious that it is our Duty to repent of a Temper and Conduct so unworthy our Nature, and unbecoming our Obligations to its Author, and to resolve and endeavour to act a wiser and better Part for the future. The Connection of our Depravity and Folly with inward Remorse, and many outward Calamities, being established by the Deity himself, is a natural Intimation of his Present Displeasure with us; and a Propensity to continue in the same Course, contracted in consequence of the Laws of Habit, gives us just Ground of Fear, that we are obnoxious to his farther Displeasure, as that Propensity gives a Stability to our Vice and Folly, and forebodes our Perseverance in them.
Hopes of PardonNevertheless, from the Character which his Works exhibit of him, from those Delays or Alleviations of Punishment which Offenders often experience, and from the merciful Tenour of his Administration in many other Instances, the sincere Penitent may entertain good Hopes that his Parent and Judge will not be strict to mark Iniquity, but will be propitious and favourable to him, if he honestly endeavours to avoid his former Practices, and subdue his former Habits, and to live in a greater Conformity to the Divine Will for the future. If any Doubts or Fears should still remain, how far it may be consistent with the Rectitude and Equity of the Divine Government to let his Iniquities pass unpunished, yet he cannot think it unsuitable to his paternal Clemency and Wisdom to contrive a Method of retrieving the penitent Offender, that shall unite and reconcile the Majesty and Mercy of his Government. If Reason cannot of itself suggest such a Scheme, it gives at least some Ground to expect it. But though natural Religion cannot let in more Light and Assurance on so interesting a Subject, yet it will teach the humble Theist to wait with great Submission for any farther Intimations it may please the supreme Governor to give of his Will; to examine with Candour and Impartiality, whatever Evidence shall be proposed to him of a Divine Revelation, whether that Evidence is natural or supernatural; to embrace it with Veneration and Chearfulness, if the Evidence is clear and convincing; and finally, if it bring to light any new Relations or Connections, natural Religion will persuade its sincere Votary faithfully to comply with the Obligations, and perform the Duties which result from those Relations and Connections.—This is Theism, Piety, the Completion of Morality!
Worship, Praise, ThanksgivingWe must farther observe, that all those Affections which we supposed to regard the Deity as their immediate and primary Object, are vital Energies of the Soul, and consequently exert themselves into Act, and like all its other Energies, gain Strength or greater Activity by that Exertion. It is therefore our Duty as well as highest Interest, often at stated Times, and by decent and solemn Acts, to contemplate and adore the great Original of our Existence, the Parent of all Beauty, and of all Good; to express our Veneration and Love, by an awful and devout Recognition of his Perfections, and to evidence our Gratitude, by celebrating his Goodness, and thankfully acknowledging all his Benefits. It is likewise our Duty, by proper Exercises of Sorrow and Humiliation, to confess our Ingratitude and Folly, to signify our Dependence on God, and our Confidence in his Goodness, by imploring his Blessing and gracious Concurrence in assisting the Weakness, and curing the Corruptions of our Nature; and finally, to testify our Sense of his Authority and our Faith in his Government, by devoting ourselves to do his Will, and resigning ourselves to his Disposal. These Duties are not therefore obligatory, because the Deity needs or can be profited by them; but as they are apparently decent and moral, suitable to the Relations he sustains of our Creator, Benefactor, Law-giver, and Judge, expressive of our State and Obligations, and improving to our Tempers, by making us more Rational, Social, God-like, and consequently more Happy.
External WorshipWe have now considered Internal Piety, or the Worship of the Mind, that which is in Spirit and in Truth; we shall conclude this Section with a short Account of that which is External. External Worship is founded on the same Principles as Internal, and of as strict moral Obligation. It is either private or public. Devotion, that is inward, or purely intellectual, is too spiritual and abstracted an Operation for the Bulk of Mankind. The Operations of their Minds, such especially as are employed on the most sublime, immaterial Objects, must be assisted by their outward Organs, or by some Help from the Imagination, otherwise they will be soon dissipated by sensible Impressions, or grow tiresome if too long continued. Ideas are such fleeting things, that they must be fixed, and so subtle, that they must be expressed and delineated as it were, by sensible Marks and Images, otherwise we cannot attend to them, nor be much affected by them. Thereforeverbal Adoration, Prayer, Praise, Thanksgiving, and Confession, are admirable Aids to inward Devotion, fix our Attention, compose and enliven our Thoughts, impress us more deeply with a Sense of the awful Presence in which we are, and, by a natural and mechanical sort of Influence, tend to heighten those devout Feelings and Affections which we ought to entertain, and after this manner reduce into formal and explicit Act.
Public WorshipThis holds true in an higher Degree in the case of public Worship, where the Presence of our Fellow-creatures, and the powerful Contagion of the social Affections conspire to kindle and spread the devout Flame with greater Warmth and Energy. To conclude: As God is the Parent and Head of the social System, as he has formed us for a social State, as by one we find the best Security against the Ills of Life, and in the other enjoy its greatest Comforts, and as by means of both, our Nature attains its highest Improvement and Perfection; and moreover, as there are public Blessings and Crimes in which we all share in some degree, and public Wants and Dangers to which all are exposed, it is therefore evident, that the various and solemn Offices of public Religion, are Duties of indispensible moral Obligation, among the best Cements of Society, the firmest Prop of Government, and the fairest Ornament of both.
Of Practical Ethics, or the Culture of the Mind
Dignity and Importance of the SubjectWe have now gone thro’ a particular Detail of the several Duties we owe to Ourselves, to Society, and to God. In considering the first Order of Duties, we just touched on the Methods of acquiring the different kinds of Goods, which we are led by Nature to pursue; only we left the Consideration of the Method of acquiring the Moral Goods of the Mind to a Section by itself, because of its singular Importance. This Section then will contain a brief Enumeration of the Arts of acquiring Virtuous Habits, and of eradicating Vitious Ones, as far as is consistent with the Brevity of such a Work; a Subject of the utmost Difficulty as well as importance in Morals; to which, nevertheless, the least Attention has been generally given by Moral Writers. This will properly follow a Detail of Duty, as it will direct us to such Means or Helps as are most necessary and conducive to the Practice of it.
Sensible Ideas and sensible TasteIn the first Part of this Inquiry we traced the Order in which the Passions shoot up in the different Periods of human Life. That Order is not accidental, or dependent on the Caprice of Men, or the Influence of Custom and Education; but arises from the Original Constitution and Laws of our Nature; of which this is one, viz. “That senseble Objects make the first and strongest Impressions on the Mind.” These, by means of our outward Organs being conveyed to the Mind, become Objects of its Attention, on which it reflects, when the outward Objects are no longer present, or, in other words, when the Impressions upon the outward Organs cease. These Objects of the Mind’s Reflection are called Ideas or Images. Towards these, by another Law of our Nature, we are not altogether indifferent, but correspondent Movements of Desire or Aversion, Love or Hatred, arise, according as the Objects, of which they are Images or Copies, made an agreeable or disagreeable Impression on our Organs. Those Ideas and Affections which we experience in the first Period of Life, we refer to the Body, or to Sense; and the Taste which is formed towards them, we call a sensible, or a merely naturalTaste; and the Objects corresponding to them we in general call good or pleasant.
Ideas of Beauty and a fine TasteBut, as the Mind moves forward in its Course, it extends its Views, and receives a new and more complex Set of Ideas, in which it observes Uniformity, Variety, Similitude, Symmetry of Parts, Reference to an End, Novelty, Grandeur. These compose a vast Train and Diversity of Imagery, which the Mind compounds, divides, and moulds into a thousand Forms, in the Absence of those Objects which first introduced it. And this more complicated Imagery suggests a new Train of Desires and Affections, full as sprightly and engaging as any which have yet appeared. This whole Class of Perceptions or Impressions is referred to the Imagination, and forms an higher Taste than the Sensible, and which has an immediate and mighty Influence on the finer Passions of our Nature, and is commonly termed a fineTaste.
The Objects which correspond to this Taste we use to call beautiful, harmonious, great, or wonderful, or in general by the Name of Beauty.
Moral Ideas and a Moral TasteThe Mind still pushing onwards and increasing its Stock of Ideas, ascends from those to an higher Species of Objects, viz. the Order and Mutual Relations of Minds to each other, their reciprocal Affections, Characters, Actions, and various Aspects. In these it discovers a Beauty, a Grandeur, a Decorum, more interesting and alluring than in any of the former kinds. These Objects, or the Images of them, passing in review before the Mind, do, by a necessary Law of our Nature, call forth another and nobler Set of Affections, as Admiration, Esteem, Love, Honour, Gratitude, Benevolence, and others of the like Tribe. This Class of Perceptions and their correspondent Affections, we refer because of their Objects (Manners) to a Moral Sense, and call the Taste or Temper they excite Moral. And the Objects which are agreeable to this Taste or Temper we denominate by the general Name of MoralBeauty, in order to distinguish it from the other which is termed Natural.
Sources of AssociationThese different Sets of Ideas or Images are the Materials about which the Mind employs itself, which it blends, ranges, and diversifies ten thousand different ways. It feels a strong Propension to connect and associate those Ideas among which it observes any Similitude, or any Aptitude, whether original and natural, or customary and artificial, to suggest each other. Thus it is ready to associate the Ideas of Natural and Moral Beauty, as both partake of the same Principle, viz. Design, Harmony of Parts, or Reference to an End, and are Relative to Mind, the common Origin of Both. A fine Face, or a graceful Deportment, naturally suggests Ideas of Moral Beauty. And many outward Badges, as Crowns, Crosiers, Purple Robes, and Statues, do often, by the Force of Custom, excite Moral Sentiments, as Majesty, Piety, Justice, Virtue. If any particular Sets of Ideas have been found, at any time, to co-exist in the same Objects, the Mind shall ever after have a Propensity to unite them, even when they no longer co-exist. Thus, because we have sometimes seen a good Temper accompany a good Aspect, Virtue annexed to Politeness, Merit to Fame, we are strongly inclined to fancy that they can never be disunited. When any Ideas or Sets of Ideas have been produced by certain Objects or Occasions immediately and presently, which Objects or Occasions have afterwards given rise to a different and perhaps quite opposite Set of Ideas or Impressions, the same Objects recurring, shall bring in view the former Set, while the latter, being posterior in time, shall be entirely forgot. Thus the Drinker or Rake, upon seeing his Bottle, and his Companion, or Mistress, shall amuse himself with all the gay Ideas of agreeable Fellowship, Friendship, Gentleman-like Enjoyment, giving and receiving Pleasures, which those Objects first excited, but, by an unhappy Self-delusion, shall over-look those Head achs, Heart-achs, that Satiety, and those other mortifying Impressions which accompanied though more laterly, his intemperate Indulgences.
Laws of AssociationBut whatever the Reasons are, whether Similitude, Co-existence, Causality, or any other Aptitude or Relation, why any two or more Ideas are connected by the Mind at first, it is an established Law of our Nature, “That when two or more Ideas have often started in Company, they form so strong an Union, that it is very difficult ever after to separate them.” Thus the Lover cannot separate the Idea of Merit from his Mistress; the Courtier that of Dignity from his Title or Ribbon; the Miser that of Happiness from his Bags. Here the Mind’s Process is often the same as in its more abstracted Operations. When it has once been convinced of the Truth of any Geometrical Proposition, it may strongly retain the Connection of the Terms of the Proposition, suppose the Equality of the Angles of a Triangle to two Right ones, though it does not attend to, or has perhaps forgot, the intervening Ideas which shewed that Connection. In like manner, tho perhaps it was the Tendency of Wealth and Power, when well employed, to private Pleasure, or public Happiness, that gave the fond Admirers of either the first Notion of their Value, yet their Mind having once settled that Connection, frequently forgets the immediate Link, viz. the wise or generous Use, and by degrees come to admire Wealth and Power for themselves, fancying them intrinsically valuable, however they are used, and whether used or not. By these and many other ways the strongest Associations of Ideas are formed, the different Sets of Ideas before mentioned are shuffled together without Regularity or Distinction, often without any Natural Alliance or Relation, by mere Accident, Example, Company, Sympathy, Education, and sometimes by Caprice. So that any kind of Natural Good shall be combined with Moral Beauty, nay Ideas the most opposite in Nature shall be coupled together, so as hardly to be ever disunited in the Observer’s Mind: as for instance, Prudence with Craft, Honour with Injustice, Religion with Inhumanity, Corruption or Sedition with Patriotism.—It is these Associations of Worth or Happiness with any of the different Sets of Objects or Images before specified, that form our Taste, or Complex Idea of Good. By another Law of our Nature, “our Affections follow and are governed by this Taste. And to these Affections our Character and Conduct are similar and proportioned, on the general Tenour of which our Happiness principally depends.”
Leading Passions follow TasteAs all our Leading Passions then depend on the Direction which our Taste takes, and as it is always of the same Strain with our Leading Associations, it is worth while to enquire a little more particularly how these are formed, in order to detect the secret Sources from whence our Passions derive their principal Strength, their various Rises and Falls. For this will give us the true Key to their Management, and let us into the right Method of correcting the bad and improving the good.
The Importance and Use of the ImaginationA very slight Inspection into human Nature suggests to us, that no kind of Objects make so powerful an Impression on us as those which are immediately impressed on our Senses, or strongly painted on our Imaginations. Whatever is purely Intellectual, as abstracted or scientific Truths, the subtile Relations and Differences of Things, has a fainter sort of Existence in the Mind; and though it may exercise and whet the Memory, the Judgment, or the Reasoning Powers, gives hardly any Impulse at all to the Active Powers, the Passions, which are the main Springs of Motion. On the other hand, were the Mind entirely under the Direction of Sense, and impressible only by such Objects as are present, and strike some of the outward Organs, we should then be precisely in the State of the Brute-Creation, and be governed solely by Instinct or Appetite, and have no Power to controul whatever Impressions are made upon us: Nature has therefore endued us with a middleFaculty, wonderfully adapted to our mixed State, which holds partly of Sense and partly of Reason, being strongly allied to the former, and the common Receptacle in which all the Notices that come from that quarter are treasured up, and yet greatly subservient and ministerial to the latter, by giving a Body, a Coherence, and Beauty to its Conceptions. This middle Faculty is called the Imagination, one of the most busy and fruitful Powers of the Mind. Into this common Storehouse are likewise carried all those Moral Images or Forms which are derived from our Moral Faculties of Perception, and there they often undergo new Changes and Appearances, by being mixed and wrought up with the Images and Forms of Sensible or Natural Things. By this Coalition of Imagery, Natural Beauty is dignified and heightened by Moral Qualities and Perfections, and Moral Qualities are at once exhibited, and set off by Natural Beauty. The sensible Beauty, or Good, is refined from its Dross by partaking of the Moral, and the Moral receives a Stamp, a visible Character and Currency from the Sensible.—But in order to judge of this mutual Influence, it will be proper to give a few Instances of the Process of the Imagination, or of the Energy of the associating Principle.
Its Energy in various Instances, in heightening sensible PleasuresAs we are first of all accustomed to sensible Impressions and sensible Enjoyments, we contract early a Sensual Relish, or Love of Pleasure, in the lower Sense of the Word. In order however to justify this Relish, the Mind, as it becomes open to higher Perceptions of Beauty and Good, borrows from thence a nobler Set of Images, as fine Taste, Generosity, social Affection, Friendship, good Fellowship, and the like; and, by dressing out the old Pursuits with these new Ornaments, gives them an additional Dignity and Lustre. By these ways the Desire of a Table, Love of Finery, Intrigue, and Pleasure, are vastly increased beyond their natural Pitch, having an Impulse combined of the Force of the natural Appetites and of the super-added Strength of those Passions which tend to the Moral Species.
In heightening the Pleasures of Beauty, Harmony, &c.When the Mind becomes more sensible to those Objects or Appearances, in which it perceives Beauty, Uniformity, Grandeur, and Harmony, as fine Cloaths, elegant Furniture, Plate, Pictures, Gardens, Houses, Equipage, the Beauty of Animals, and particularly the Attractions of the Sex; to these Objects the Mind is led by Nature, or taught by Custom, the Opinion and Example of others, to annex certain Ideas of Moral Character, Dignity, Decorum, Honour, Liberality, Tenderness, and Active or Social Enjoyment. The Consequence of this Association is, that the Objects to which these are annexed, must rise in their Value, and be pursued with proportionable Ardor. The Enjoyment of them is often attended with Pleasure, and the mere Possession of them, where that is wanting, frequently draws Respect from one’s Fellow-creatures: this Respect is, by many, equivalent to the Pleasure of Enjoyment. Hence it happens that the Idea of Happiness is connected with the mere Possession, which is therefore eagerly sought after, without any regard to the generous Use, or honourable Enjoyment. Thus the Passion resting on the Means, not the End, i.e. losing sight of its natural Object, becomes wild and extravagant.
In raising the Value of external Symbols, &c.In fine, any Object, or External Denomination, a Staff, a Garter, a Cup, a Crown, a Title, may become a Moral Badge, or Emblem of Merit, Magnificence or Honour, according as these have been found, or thought by the Possessors or Admirers of them, to accompany them; yet, by the Deception formerly mentioned, the Merit or the Conduct which entitled, or should entitle, to those Marks of Distinction, shall be forgot or neglected, and the Badges themselves be passionately affected, or pursued, as including every Excellency. If these are attained by any Means, all the Concomitants which Nature, Custom, or Accidents have joined to them, will be supposed to follow of course. Thus, Moral Ends, with which the unhappy Admirer is apt to colour over his Passion and Views, will, in his opinion, justify the most Immoral Means, as Prostitution, Adulation, Fraud, Treachery, and every Species of Knavery, whether more open, or more disguised.
In heightening the Value of Wealth, Power, &c.When Men are once engaged in Active Life, and find that Wealth and Power, generally called Interest, are the great Avenues to every kind of Enjoyment, they are apt to throw in many engaging Moral Forms to the Object of their Pursuit, in order to justify their Passion, and varnish over the Measures they take to gratify it, as Independency on the Vices or Passions of others, Provision and Security to themselves and Friends, Prudent Oeconomy or well-placed Charity, Social Communication, Superiority to their Enemies, who are all Villains, honourable Service, and many other Ingredients of Merit. To attain such Capacities of Usefulness or Enjoyment, what Arts, nay what Meannesses can be thought blameable by those cool Pursuers of Interest?—Nor have they, whom the gay World is pleased to indulge with the Title of Men of Pleasure, their Imaginations less pregnant with Moral Images, with which they never fail to ennoble, or, if they cannot do that, to palliate their gross Pursuits. Thus Admiration of Wit, of Sentiments and Merit, Friendship, Love, generous Sympathy, mutual Confidence, giving and receiving Pleasure, are the ordinary Ingredients with which they season their Gallantry and pleasurable Entertainments; and by which they impose on themselves and endeavour to impose on others, that their Amours are the joint Issue of Good-sense and Virtue.
Its Influence on all the PassionsThese Associations, variously combined and proportioned by the Imagination, from the chief private Passions, which govern the Lives of the Generality, as the Love of Action, of Pleasure, Wealth, and Fame; they influence the Defensive, and affect the public Passions, and raise Joy or Sorrow, as they are gratified or disappointed. So that in effect, these Associations of Good and Evil, Beauty and Deformity, and the Passions they raise, are the main Hinges of Life and Manners, and the great Sources of our Happiness or Misery. It is evident, therefore, that the whole of Moral Culture must depend on giving a right Direction to the Leading Passions, and duly proportioning them to the Value of the Objects or Goods pursued, under what Name soever they may appear.
Moral Culture, by Correcting our Taste or ImaginationNow, in order to give them this right Direction and due Proportion, it appears, from the foregoing Detail, that those Associations of Ideas, upon which the Passions depend, must be duly regulated; that is to say, as an exorbitant Passion for Wealth, Pleasure, or Power, flows from an Association or Opinion that more Beauty and Good, whether Natural or Moral, enters into the Enjoyment or Possession of them, than really belongs to either; therefore, in restoring those Passions to their just Proportion, we must begin with correcting the Opinion, or breaking the false Association, or, in other words, we must decompound the Complex Phantom of Happiness or Good, which we fondly admire; disunite those Ideas, that have no natural Alliance; and separate the Original Ideas of Wealth, Power, or Pleasure, from the foreign Mixtures incorporated with it, which enhance its Value, or give it its chief Power to enchant and seduce the Mind. For instance, let it be considered how poor and inconsiderable a Thing Wealth is, if it be disjoined from real Use, or from Ideas of Capacity in the Possessor to do good from Independency, Generosity, Provision for a Family or Friends, and Social Communication with others. By this Standard let its true Value be fixed; let its Misapplication, or unbenevolent Enjoyment be accounted sordid and infamous; and nothing worthy or estimable be ascribed to the mere Possession of it, which is not borrowed from its generous Use.
By Self-denial, and Counter-ProcessIf that complex Form of Good which is called Pleasure, engages us, let it be analysed into its constituent Principles, or those Allurements it draws from the Heart and Imagination, in order to heighten the low part of the Indulgence; let the separate and comparative Moment of each be distinctly ascertained, and deduced from that gross part, and this Remainder of the accumulative Enjoyment will dwindle down into a poor, insipid, transitory thing. In proportion as the Opinion of the Good pursued abates, the Admiration must decay, and the Passion lose Strength of course. One effectual way to lower the Opinion, and consequently to weaken the Habit founded on it, is to practice lesser pieces of Self-denial, or to abstain, to a certain pitch, from the Pursuit or Enjoyment of the favourite Object; and, that this may be the more easily accomplished, one must avoid those Occasions, that Company, those Places and the other Circumstances that enflamed one and endeared the other. And, as a Counter-process, let higher or even different Enjoyments be brought in view, other Passions played upon the former, different Places frequented, other Exercises tried, Company kept with Persons of a different, or more correct way of thinking, both in Natural and Moral Subjects.
By a Sound and Natural EducationAs much depends on our setting out well in Life, let the Youthful Fancy, which is apt to be very florid and luxuriant, be early accustomed, by Instruction, Example, and significant Moral Exercises, nay by Looks, Gestures, and every other Testimony of just Approbation or Blame, to annex Ideas of Merit, Honour and Happiness, not to Birth, Dress, Rank, Beauty, Fortune, Power, Popularity, and the like outward Things, but to Moral and truly virtuous Qualities, and to those Enjoyments which spring from a well-informed Judgment, and a regular Conduct of the Affections, especially those of the social and disinterested kind. Such dignified Forms of Beauty and Good, often suggested, and, by moving Pictures and Examples, warmly recommended to the Imagination, enforced by the Authority of Conscience, and demonstrated by Reason to be the surest Means of Enjoyment, and the only independent, undeprivable and durable Goods, will be the best Counter-balance to meaner Passions, and the firmest Foundation and Security to Virtue.
By rightly studying Human NatureIt is of great Importance to the forming a just Taste, or pure and large Conceptions of Happiness, to study and understand Human Nature well, to remember what a complicated System it is, particularly to have deeply imprinted on our Mind that Gradation of Senses, Faculties, and Powers of Enjoyment formerly mentioned, and the Subordination of Goods resulting from thence, which Nature points out, and the Experience of Mankind confirms; who, when they think seriously, and are not under the immediate Influence of some violent Prejudice or Passion, prefer not the Pleasures of Action, Contemplation, Society, and most Exercises and Joys of the Moral kind, as Friendship, Natural Affection, and the like, to all Sensual Gratifications whatsoever. Where the different Species of Pleasure are blended into one Complex Form, let them be accurately distinguished, and be referred each to its proper Faculty and Sense, and examined apart what they have peculiar, what common with others, and what foreign and adventitious. Let Wealth, Grandeur, Luxury, Love, Fame, and the like, be tried by this Test, and their true Alloy will be found out.
By comparing the Moment and Abatements of different GoodsLet it be farther considered, whether the Mind may not be easy and enjoy itself greatly, though it want many of those Elegancies and Superfluities of Life which some possess, or that Load of Wealth and Power which others eagerly pursue, and under which they groan. Let the Difficulty of attaining, the Precariousness of possessing, and the many Abatements in enjoying over-grown Wealth and envyed Greatness, of which the weary Possessors so frequently complain—as the Hurry of Business, the Burthen of Company, of paying Attendance to the Few, and giving it to the Many, the Cares of keeping, the Fears of losing, and the Desires of increasing what they have, and the other Troubles which accompany this pitiful Drudgery and pompous Servitude—let these and the like Circumstances be often considered that are conducive to the removing or lessening the Opinion of such Goods, and the attendant Passions or Set of Passions will decay of course.
By observing our own Bent and Character, &c.Let the peculiar Bent of our Nature and Character be observed, whether we are most inclined to form Associations and relish Objects of the Sensible, Intellectual, or Moral kind. Let that which has the Ascendant be particularly watched, let it be directed to right Objects, be improved by proportioned Exercises, and guarded by proper Checks from an opposite Quarter. Thus, the Sensible turn may be exalted by the Intellectual, and a Taste for the Beauty of the fine Arts, and both may be made subservient to convey and rivet Sentiments highly Moral and public spirited. This inward Survey must extend to the Strength and Weaknesses of one’s Nature, one’s Condition, Connections, Habitudes, Fortune, Studies, Acquaintance, and the other Circumstances of one’s Life, from which every Man will form the justest Estimate of his own Dispositions and Character, and the best Rules for correcting and improving them. And, in order to do this with more Advantage, let those Times, or Critical Seasons be watched, when the Mind is best disposed towards a Change, and let them be improved by vigorous Resolutions, Promises, or whatever else will engage the Mind to persevere in Virtue. Let the Conduct, in fine, be often reviewed, and the Causes of its Corruption or Improvement be carefully observed.
By frequent Moral ExercisesIt will greatly conduce to refine the Moral Taste and strengthen the virtuous Temper, to accustom the Mind to the frequent Exercise of Moral Sentiments and Determinations, by reading History, Poetry, particularly of the Picturesque and Dramatic kind, the Study of the fine Arts; by conversing with the most eminent for Good-sense and Virtue; but above all by frequent and repeated Acts of Humanity, Compassion, Friendship, Politeness and Hospitality. It is Exercise gives Health and Strength. He that reasons most frequently becomes the wisest, and most enjoys the Pleasures of Wisdom. He who is most often affected by Objects of Compassion in Poetry, History, or real Life, will have his Soul most open to Pity and its delightful Pains and Duties. So he also who practices most diligently the Offices of Kindness and Charity, will by it cultivate that Disposition, from whence all his Pretensions to personal Merit must arise, his present and his future Happiness.
By an honest EmploymentAn useful and honourable Employment in Life will administer a thousand Opportunities of this kind, and greatly strengthen a Sense of Virtue and good Affections, which must be nourished by right Training, as well as our Understandings. For such an Employment, by enlarging one’s Experience, giving an Habit of Attention and Caution, or obliging one from Necessity or Interest, to keep a Guard over the Passions, and study the outward Decencies and Appearances of Virtue, will by degrees produce good Habits, and at length insinuate the Love of Virtue and Honesty for its own Sake.
By viewing Men and Manners in a fair LightIt is a great Inducement to the Exercise of Benevolence to view Human Nature in a favourable Light, to observe the Characters and Circumstances of Mankind on the fairest Sides, to put the best Constructions on their Actions they will bear, and to consider them as the Result of partial and mistaken, rather than ill Affections, or, at worst, as the Excesses of a pardonable Self-love, seldom or never the Effect of pure Malice.
By Consideration and pious ExercisesAbove all, the Nature and Consequences of Virtue and Vice, their Consequences being the Law of our Nature and Will of Heaven; the Light in which they appear to our Supreme Parent and Law-giver, and the Reception they will meet with from him, must be often attended to. The Exercises of Piety, as Adoration and Praise of the Divine Excellency, Invocation of, and Dependence on his Aid, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Resignation, are habitually to be indulged, and frequently performed, not only as medicinal, but highly improving to the Temper.
By just Views of Human Life and its Connection with a futureTo conclude: it will be of admirable Efficacy towards eradicating bad Habits, and implanting good ones, frequently to contemplate Human Life, as the great Nursery of our future and immortal Existence, as that State of Probation, in which we are to be educated for a Divine Life. To remember, that our Virtues or Vices will be immortal as ourselves, and influence our future as well as our present Happiness—and therefore, that every Disposition and Action is to be regarded as pointing beyond the present to an immortal Duration. An habitual Attention to this wide and important Connection will give a vast Compass and Dignity to our Sentiments and Actions, a noble Superiority to the Pleasures and Pains of Life, and a generous Ambition to make our Virtue as immortal as our Being.
Motives to Virtue from Personal Happiness
Motives from personal HappinessWe have already considered our Obligations to the Practice of Virtue, arising from the Constitution of our Nature, by which we are led to approve a certain Order and Oeconomy of Affections, and a certain Course of Action correspondent to it.* —But besides this, there are several Motives, which strengthen and secure Virtue, though not themselves of a Moral kind. These are, its Tendency to personal Happiness, and the contrary Tendency of Vice. “Personal Happiness arises, either from the State of a Man’s own Mind, or from the State and Disposition of external Causes towards him.”
Happiness of Virtue from withinWe shall first examine the “Tendency of Virtue to Happiness with respect to the State of a Man’s own Mind.”—This is a Point of the utmost Consequence in Morals, because, unless we can convince ourselves, or shew to others, that, by doing our Duty, or fulfilling our Moral Obligations, we consult the greatest Satisfaction of our own Mind, or our highest Interest on the whole, it will raise strong and often unsurmountable Prejudices against the Practice of Virtue, especially whenever there arises any Appearance of Opposition between our Duty, and our Satisfaction or Interest. To Creatures so desirous of Happiness, and averse to Misery as we are, and often so oddly situated amidst contending Passions and Interests, it is necessary that Virtue appear not only an honourable, but a pleasing and beneficent Form. And in order to justify our Choice to ourselves, as well as before others, we must ourselves feel and be able to avow in the Face of the whole World, that her Ways are Ways of Pleasantness and her Paths the Paths of Peace. This will shew, beyond all Contradiction, that we not only approve, but can give a sufficient Reason for what we do.
Influence of Vice on the Temper of the MindLet any Man, in a cool Hour, when he is disengaged from Business, and undisturbed by Passion, as such cool Hours will sometimes happen, sit down, and seriously reflect with himself what State or Temper of Mind he would chuse to feel and indulge, in order to be easy and to enjoy himself. Would he chuse, for that purpose, to be in a constant Dissipation and Hurry of Thought; to be disturbed in the Exercise of his Reason; to have various, and often interfering Phantoms of Good playing before his Imagination, soliciting and distracting him by turns, now soothing him with amusing Hopes, then torturing him with anxious Fears; and to approve this Minute what he shall condemn the next? Would he chuse to have a strong and painful Sense of every petty Injury; quick Apprehensions of every impending Evil; incessant and insatiable Desires of Power, Wealth, Honour, Pleasure; an irreconcileable Antipathy against all Competitors and Rivals; insolent and tyrannical Dispositions to all below him; fawning, and at the same time envious, Dispositions to all above him; with dark Suspicions and Jealousies of every Mortal? Would he chuse neither to love nor be beloved of any, to have no Friend in whom to confide, or with whom to interchange his Sentiments or Designs; no Favourite, on whom to bestow his Kindness, or vent his Passions; in fine, to be conscious of no Merit with Mankind, no Esteem from any Creature, no good Affection to his Maker, no Concern for, or Hopes of his Approbation; but instead of all these, to hate, and know that he is hated, to contemn, and know that he is contemned by, all; by the Good, because he is so unlike; and by the Bad, because he is so like themselves; to hate or to dread the very Being that made him; and in short, to have his Breast the Seat of Pride and Passion, Petulance and Revenge, deep Melancholy, cool Malignity, and all the other Furies that ever possessed and tortured Mankind?—Would our calm Enquirer after Happiness pitch on such a State, and such a Temper of Mind, as the most likely means to put him in possession of his desired Ease and Self-enjoyment?
Influence of Virtue on the TemperOr would he rather chuse a serene and easy Flow of Thoughts; a Reason clear and composed; a Judgment unbiassed by Prejudice, and undistracted by Passion; a sober and well-governed Fancy, which presents the Images of Things true and unmixed with delusive and unnatural Charms, and therefore administers no improper or dangerous Fuel to the Passions, but leaves the Mind free to chuse or reject as becomes a reasonable creature; a sweet and sedate Temper, not easily ruffled by Hopes or Fears, prone neither to Suspicion nor Revenge, apt to view Men and Things in the fairest Lights, and to bend gently to the Humours of others rather than obstinately to contend with them? Would he chuse such Moderation and Continence of Mind, as neither to be ambitious of Power, fond of Honours, covetous of Wealth, nor a Slave to Pleasure; a Mind of course neither elated with Success, nor dejected with Disappointment; such a modest and noble Spirit as supports Power without Insolence, wears Honours without Pride, uses Wealth without Profusion or Parsimony; and rejoices more in giving than in receiving Pleasure; such Fortitude and Equanimity as rises above Misfortunes, or turns them into Blessings; such Integrity and Greatness of Mind, as neither flatters the Vices, nor triumphs over the Follies of Men; as equally spurns Servitude and Tyranny, and will neither engage in low Designs, nor abet them in others? Would he chuse, in fine, such Mildness and Benignity of Heart as takes part in all the Joys, and refuses none of the Sorrows of others; stands well-affected to all Mankind; is conscious of meriting the Esteem of all, and of being beloved by the best; a Mind which delights in doing good without any Shew, and yet arrogates nothing on that account; rejoices in loving and being beloved by its Maker, acts ever under his Eye, resigns itself to its Providence, and triumphs in his Approbation?—Which of these Dispositions would be his Choice, in order to be contented, serene and happy?—The former Temper is Vice, the latterVirtue. Where One prevails, there Misery prevails, and by the Generality is acknowledged to prevail. Where the other reigns, there Happiness reigns, and by the Confession of Mankind is acknowledged to reign. The Perfection of either Temper is Misery, or Happiness in Perfection.Therefore every Approach to either Extreme, is an Approach to Misery, or to Happiness; that is to say, every Degree of Vice or Virtue is accompanied with a proportionable Degree of Misery or Happiness.
An Objection from an imaginary Coalition of Virtue and ViceBut many are of opinion, and, by their Practice seem to avow the Opinion, that, by blending or softening the Extremes, and artfully reconciling Virtue with Vice, they bid fairer to strike a just Medium of Happiness, to pass more smoothly through Life, and to have more Resources in the present embarassed Scene. Honesty (they acknowledge) “is, in the main, the best Policy, but it is often too blunt and surly, and always too scrupulous, and therefore to temper and season it with a little discreet Craft in critical and well-chosen Conjunctures, will, they think, make it more palatable to others and more profitable to one’s self. Kind Affection is a good Thing in its own Place, and when it costs a Man nothing; but Charity begins at home; and one’s Regard for others must still look that way, and be subservient to the main Chance. Besides, why suffer unnecessary Disquiet on the Account of others? Our own Happiness is Charge enough to us; and if we are not to be happy till others are so too, it is a mere Utopian Dream ever to expect it. One would not chuse to do Ill for the sake of Ill, but when Necessity requires it, the lesser Good must submit to the greater, that is, to our own personal Good; for in it, by the first and fundamental Law of our Nature, we are most interested. By such a Conduct we shall have least Reason to accuse ourselves, be most easy within, and best secured against the Misfortunes and Assaults of others.”
The Temper and Condition of Half-honesty or KnaveryThis is the Language of great Partiality of Thought, as well as great Partiality of Heart.—But as it is one of the main Forts in which Selfishness and Knavery use to intrench themselves, it may be worth while to beat it down, to make way for the full Triumphs of their fair Adversary. That Man may neglect, or hurt their own Interest by an indiscreet Concern about that of others—that Honesty may sometimes degenerate into a blunt Surliness, or a peevish Scrupulosity—that important Occasions may demand the Sacrifice of a less public, to a greater private Good—that it were Folly to make one’s self miserable, because others are not so happy as one would wish, we do not deny. But is there not the justest reason to suspect, that the dishonest, or the half-honest and contracted turn of Mind here pleaded for, is the very reverse of that Temper which begets true Satisfaction and Self-enjoyment, and of that Character which entitles to Credit, Security, and Success? The Man who doubts and hesitates, whether he may not, in some Instances, play the Knave, cannot, in any Sense, be termed honest. And surely, he cannot approve himself for that Conduct, which, by an inviolable Law of his Nature, he is compelled to condemn; and if he cannot approve himself for his Conduct, he is deprived of one of the sweetest Feelings of the human Heart. But, suppose he could disguise the immoral Deed or Disposition under the fair Name of some Virtue, or the Mask at least of a necessary Self-regard, as is often done, to elude the awful Decision of Conscience, which when uninfluenced is always unerring; yet he must be conscious he cannot stand the Test of Judges less interested than himself; and must therefore be under constant Dread of Discovery, and consequently of public Censure, with all its mortifying Attendants. This Dread must be so much the greater, if he has had Companions or Tools of his Knavery, which generally it must have in order to supply its native Impotence and Deficiency. This then is to be insecure, obnoxious, and dependent, and that too on the worst Set of Men, on whom one can have no hold but by their Vices, which, like undisciplined wild Beasts, often turn upon their Masters. Such an insecure, obnoxious, dependent State, must necessarily be a State of Suspicion, Servitude and Fear, which instead of begetting Serenity and Self-enjoyment, are the Parents of Disquiet and Misery. Besides, the fluctuating perpetually between opposite Principles, the Violence done to a native Sense of Honesty, the Reluctance against the first Advances of young and blushing Knavery, the hot and cold Fits of alternate Virtue and Vice, the Suspense and Irresolution of a Mind distracted between interfering Passions, are the first painful Symptoms of that dreadful Disease which afterwards lays waste every thing goodly and ingenuous, and raises Agonies intolerable to the Patient, and quite inconceivable by others. Whether such an inconsistent Conduct, divided between Vice and Virtue, will serve the Views of Interest proposed by it, will be afterwards examined.
Temper and Condition of the good benevolent ManAs to the other Part of the Objection, let it be considered, that a Man of an enlarged benevolent Mind, who thinks, feels, and acts for others, is not subject to half the Disquietudes of the contracted selfish Soul;—finds a thousand Alleviations to soften his Disappointments, which the other wants;—and has a fair Chance for double his Enjoyments. His Desires are moderate, and his Wants few in comparison of the other’s, because they are measured by Nature, which has Limits, not by Fancy or Passion, which has none. He is cautious, without being distrustful or jealous; careful, but not anxious; busy, but not distracted. He tastes Pleasure, without being dissipated; bears Pain, without Dejection or Discontent; is raised to Power, without turning giddy; feels few of the Pains of Competition, and none of the Pains of Envy.
The Alleviations of his IllsThe principal Alleviations of his Calamities are these—that, though some of them may have been the Effect of his Imprudence, or Weakness, yet few of them are sharpened by a Sense of Guilt, and none of them by a Consciousness of Wickedness, which surely is their keenest Sting;—that they are common to him with the best of Men;—that they seldom or never attack him quite unprepared, but rather guarded with a Consciousness of his own Sincerity and Virtue, with a Faith and Trust in Providence, and a firm Resignation to its perfect Orders;—that they may be improved as Means of Correction, or Materials to give Scope and Stability to his Virtues;—and, to name no more, they are considerably lessened, and often sweetened to him by the general Sympathy of the Wise and Good.
His EnjoymentsHis Enjoyments are more numerous, or, if less numerous, yet more intense than those of bad Men; for he shares in the Joys of others by Rebound; and every Increase of general or particular Happiness is a real Addition to his own. It is true, his friendly Sympathy with others subjects him to some Pains which the hard-hearted Wretch does not feel; yet to give a loose to it is a kind of agreeable Discharge. It is such a Sorrow as he loves to indulge; a sort of pleasing Anguish, that sweetly melts the Mind, and terminates in a Self-approving Joy. Though the good Man may want Means to execute, or be disappointed in the Success of his benevolent Purposes, yet, as was formerly* observed, he is still conscious of good Affections, and that Consciousness is an Enjoyment of a more delightful Savour than the greatest Triumphs of successful Vice. If the Ambitious, Covetous, or Voluptuous are disappointed, their Passions recoil upon them with a Fury proportioned to their Opinion of the Value of what they pursue, and their Hope of Success; while they have nothing within to balance the Disappointment, unless it is an useful Fund of Pride, which however frequently turns mere Accidents into mortifying Affronts, and exalts Grief into Rage and Frenzy. Whereas the meek, humble, and benevolent Temper is its own immediate Reward, is satisfied from within, and as it magnifies greatly the Pleasure of Success, so it wonderfully alleviates, and in a manner annihilates, all Pain for the want of it.
From merited Esteem and SympathyAs the good Man is conscious of loving and wishing well to all Mankind, he must be sensible of his deserving the Esteem and Good-will of all; and this supposed Reciprocation of social Feelings, is, by the very Frame of our Nature, made a Source of very intense and enlivening Joys. By this Sympathy of Affections and Interests he feels himself intimately united with the Human Race; and being sensibly alive over the whole System, his Heart receives, and becomes responsive to every Touch given to any Part. So that, as an eminent Philosopher† finely expresses it, he gathers Contentment and Delight from the pleased and happy States of those around him, from Accounts and Relations of such Happinesses, from the very Countenances, Gestures, Voices and Sounds even of Creatures foreign to our kind, whose Signs of Joy and Contentment he can any way discern.
Do not interfere with other JoysNor do those generous Affections stop any other natural Source of Joy whatever, or deaden his Sense of any innocent Gratification. They rather keep the several Senses and Powers of Enjoyment open and disengaged, intense and uncorrupted by Riot or Abuse; as is evident to any one who considers the dissipated, unfeeling State of Men of Pleasure, Ambition, or Interest, and compares it with the serene and gentle State of a Mind at peace with itself, and friendly to all Mankind, unruffled by any violent Emotion, and sensible to every good-natured and alluring Joy. He who daily dwells with Temperance and Virtue, those everlasting Beauties and of the highest Order, cannot be insensible to the Charms of Society, or Friendship, the Attractions of virtuous Love, the Delights of Reading, or to any Beauty of a lower Species, the Unbendings of innocent Mirth, or whatever else sets the Soul at Ease, and gives him a Relish of his Being. By enjoying himself, he is in the best posture for enjoying every thing else. All is pure and well-ordered in such a Heart, and therefore whatever Pleasure is poured into it has an original Savour, not a single Drop is lost. For Virtue draws off all but the Dregs, and by mixing something of her own with the most ordinary Entertainments, refines them into exalted Enjoyments.
The Misery of Excess in the Private PassionsIt were easy, by going through the different Sets of Affections mentioned formerly,* to shew, that it is only by maintaining the Proportion settled there that the Mind arrives at true Repose and Satisfaction. If Fear exceeds that Proportion, it sinks into Melancholy and Dejection. If Anger passes just Bounds, it ferments into Rage and Revenge, or subsides into a sullen corroding Gloom, which embitters every Good, and renders one exquisitely sensible to every Ill. The Private Passions, the Love of Honour especially, whose Impulses are more generous as its Effects are more diffusive, are Instruments of private Pleasure; but if they are disproportioned to our Wants, or to the Value of their several Objects, or to the Balance of other Passions, equally necessary, and more amiable, they become Instruments of intense Pain and Misery. For, being now destitute of that Counter-poise which held them at a due pitch, they grow turbulent, peevish, and revengeful, the Cause of constant Restlessness and Torment, sometimes flying out into a wild delirious Joy, at other times settling into a deep splenetic Grief. The Concert between Reason and Passion is then broke: all is Dissonance and Distraction within. The Mind is out of Frame, and feels an Agony proportioned to the Violence of the reigning Passion.
In the Public AffectionsThe Case is much the same, or rather worse, when any of the particular kind Affections are out of their natural Order and Proportion; as happens in the case of effeminate Pity, exorbitant Love, parental Dotage, or any Party Passion, where the just Regards to Society are supplanted. The more social and disinterested the Passion is, it breaks out into the wilder Excesses, and makes the more dreadful Havock, both within and abroad, as is but too apparent in those Cases where a false Species of Religion, Honour, Zeal, or Party Rage has seized on the natural Enthusiasm of the Mind, and worked it up to Madness. It breaks through all Ties, Natural and Civil, counteracts the most sacred and solemn Obligations, silences every other Affection, whether Public or Private, and transforms the most gentle Natures into the most savage and inhuman. Such an exorbitant Passion is like the enormous Growth of a natural Member, which not only draws from the Nourishment of the rest, but threatens the Mortification of the whole Body, and in the mean time occasions intolerable Pain and Anguish. In fine, all the natural Affections, like the animal Spirits, or Humours of a strong Body, if restrained from their proper Play, turn furious or melancholic, and generally force their way by some violent Discharge, no less hurtful to the Patient than offensive to those with whom he is connected.
Happiness of well- proportion’d PassionsWhereas the Man who keeps the Balance of Affection even, is easy and serene in his Motions; mild and yet affectionate; uniform and consistent with himself; is not liable to disagreeable Collisions of Interests and Passions; gives always place to the most friendly and humane Affections, and never to Dispositions or Acts of Resentment, but on high Occasions, when the Security of the private, or Welfare of the public System, or the great Interests of Mankind necessarily require a noble Indignation; and even then he observes a just Measure in Wrath; and last of all he proportions every Passion to the Value of the Object he affects, or to the Importance of the End he pursues.
Sum of the ArgumentTo sum up this Part of the Argument, the honest and good Man has eminently the Advantage of the knavish and selfish Wretch in every respect. The Pleasures which the last enjoys flow chiefly from external Advantages and Gratifications; are superficial and transitory; dashed with long Intervals of Satiety, and frequent Returns of Remorse and Fear; dependent on favourable Accidents and Conjunctures; and subjected to the Humours of Men. But the good Man is satisfied from himself; his principal Possessions lie within, and therefore beyond the Reach of the Caprice of Men or Fortune; his Enjoyments are exquisite and permanent; accompanied with no inward Checks to damp them, and always with Ideas of Dignity and Self-Approbation; may be tasted at any time and in any Place.* The Gratifications of Vice are turbulent and unnatural, generally arising from the Relief of Passions in themselves intolerable, and issuing in tormenting Reflections; often irritated by Disappointment, always inflamed by Enjoyment; and yet ever cloyed with Repetition. The Pleasures of Virtue are calm and natural; flowing from the Exercise of kind Affections, or delightful Reflections in consequence of them; not only agreeable in the Prospect, but in the present Feeling; they never satiate, or lose their Relish; nay, rather the Admiration of Virtue grows stronger every Day; and not only is the Desire but the Enjoyment heightened by every new Gratification; and unlike to most others, it is increased, not diminished by Sympathy and Communication. In fine, the Satisfactions of Virtue may be purchased without a Bribe, and possessed in the humblest, as well as the most triumphant Fortune; they can bear the strictest Review, do not change with Circumstances, nor grow old with Time. Force cannot rob, nor Fraud cheat us of them; and, to crown all, instead of abating, they enhance every other Pleasure.
External Effects of VirtueBut the happy Consequences of Virtue are seen, not only in the Internal Enjoyments it affords a Man, but “in the favourable Disposition of External Causes towards him, to which it contributes.”
On the BodyAs Virtue gives the sober Possession of one’s self and the Command of one’s Passions, the Consequence must be Heart’s Ease, and a fine natural Flow of Spirits, which conduce more than any thing else to Health and long Life. Violent Passions, and the Excesses they occasion, gradually impair and wear down the Machine. But the calm placid State of a temperate Mind, and the healthful Exercises in which Virtue engages her faithful Votaries, preserve the natural Functions in full Vigour and Harmony, and exhilarate the Spirits, which are the chief Instruments of Action. We might add, what will appear perhaps too refined, that as Virtue is the sound Temperament and beautiful Complexion of the Soul, so it even diffuses sometimes a congenial Air of Beauty over the Body, lights up, and spreads out the Countenance into a certain Openness, Chearfulness and Dignity, those natural Irradiations of inward Worth, which Politeness, that Ape of Virtue, may imitate, but can never fully attain.—In fine, Temperance, which has been called sometimes the Mother, and at other times the Nurse of the Virtues, is beautifully described by an ingenious Author,* to be that Virtue without Pride, and Fortune without Envy, that gives Indolence of Body and Tranquillity of Mind; the best Guardian of Youth and Support of old Age, the Tutelar Goddess of Health, and universal Medicine of Life, that clears the Head, strengthens the Nerves, enlightens the Eyes, and comforts the Heart.
On one’s Fortune, Interest, &c.It may by some be thought odd to assert, that Virtue is no Enemy to a Man’s Fortune in the present State of Things.—But if, by Fortune, be meant a moderate or competent Share of Wealth, Power, or Credit, not overgrown Degrees of them, what should hinder the virtuous Man from obtaining that? He cannot cringe or fawn, it is true, but he can be civil and obliging as well as the Knave; and surely, his Civility is more alluring, because it has more Manliness and Grace in it than the mean Adulation of the other; he cannot cheat or undermine, but he may be cautious, provident, watchful of Occasions, and equally prompt with the Rogue in improving them; he scorns to prostitute himself as a Pandar to the Passions, or as a Tool to the Vices of Mankind, but he may have as sound an Understanding and as good Capacities for promoting their real Interests as the veriest Court-Slave; and then, he is more faithful and true to those who employ him. In the common Course of Business, he has the same Chances with the Knave of acquiring a Fortune, and rising in the World. He may have equal Abilities, equal Industry, equal Attention to Business; and in other respects he has greatly the Advantage of him. People love better to deal with him; they can trust him more; they know he will not impose on them, nor take Advantage of them, and can depend more on his Word than on the Oath or strongest Securities of others. Whereas what is commonly called Cunning, which is the Offspring of Ignorance, and constant Companion of Knavery, is not only a mean-spirited, but a very short-sighted Talent, and a fundamental obstacle in the Road of Business. It may procure indeed immediate and petty Gains, but it is attended with dreadful Abatements, which do more than over-balance them, both as it sinks a Man’s Credit when discovered, and cramps that Largeness of Mind, which extends to the remotest as well as the nearest Interest, and takes in the most durable, equally with the most transient Gains. It is therefore easy to see how much a Man’s Credit and Reputation, and consequently his Success, depend on his Honesty and Virtue. The truly good Man has no Character to personate, no Mask to wear; his Designs are transparent, and one Part of his Discourse and Conduct exactly tallies with another. Having no sordid Views to promote, no mean Passions to serve, but wishing well to every body, and doing all the Good he can, he is intrenched and guarded round by Innocence and Virtue; and, though he is not secured against Misfortunes, yet his Character and the Friends his Merit has procured him will frequently retrieve him. Whereas Tricking, as one well expresses it, is a sort of Disguise, by which a Man hides himself in one Place, and exposes himself in another. Besides, Falshood and Roguery are variable unsettled Things, and the Source of a Conduct both irresolute and inconsistent. They must often change hands, and be ever contriving new Expedients as Accidents vary; and one lame Measure must always limp on after another to support and back it. So that an inexhausted Fund of Craft is necessary to play the Knave to any purpose, and to maintain for any time a counterfeit Character. When he is once detected, his Credit is blown for ever; and, unless he is a great Master in Dissimulation, his artificial Conduct will ever render him obnoxious to Suspicion, which is ever sharp-sighted. Even the good Man is not secure against the Attacks of Calumny, but he is armed against its Sting. If he cannot silence, he will confute Detraction by obstinately persisting in being virtuous and doing good; in time almighty Truth will prevail, and he might extort Veneration from the Partial, as well as obtain a chearful Tribute from the Candid Judges of Merit. But should the Cloud, in which Malice or Envy may have involved his Virtue, never be entirely dissipated in his Life, yet Death, that Soother of Envy and the Malevolent Passions, will totally dispel any remaining Gloom, and display his Character in all its genuine and unstained Glory. For the Bed of Virtue is a Bed of Honour, and he who dies in it, cannot die unlamented by the Good, nor unreverenced by the Bad.
On one’s Peace and SecurityWith regard to Security and Peace with his Neighbours, it may be thought perhaps, that the Man of a quiet forgiving Temper, and a flowing Benevolence and Courtesy, is much exposed to Injury and Affronts from every proud or peevish Mortal, who has the Power or Will to do Mischief. If we suppose indeed, this Quietness and Gentleness of Nature accompanied with Cowardice or Pusillanimity, this may often be the Case; but in reality, the good Man is bold as a Lion, and so much the bolder for being the calmer. Such a Person will hardly be a But to Mankind. The ill-natured will be afraid to provoke him, and the good-natured will not incline to do it. Besides, true Virtue, which is conducted by Reason, and exerted gracefully and without Parade, is a most insinuating and commanding Thing; if it cannot disarm Malice and Resentment at once, it will wear them out by Degrees, and subdue them at length. How many have, by Favours and prudently yielding, triumphed over an Enemy who would have been enflamed into tenfold Rage by the fiercest Opposition! In fine, Goodness is the most universally popular Thing that can be. Though the Prejudices or Passions of Men may sometimes dress it up in the Disguise of Weakness, or deface it with unlovely Features, yet let the Mask be dropt, and the lovely Form appear as it is, the most prejudiced will respect, the unprejudiced admire and love it, and all will be afraid, or at least ashamed, to traduce or offend a Thing so innocent and so God-like.
On one’s FamilyTo conclude, the good Man may have some Enemies, but he will have more Friends, and having given so many Marks of private Friendship or public Virtue, he can hardly be destitute of a Patron to protect, or a Sanctuary to entertain him, or to entertain and protect his Children when he is gone. Tho’ he should have little else to leave them, he bequeaths them the fairest, and generally the most unenvied Inheritance of a good Name, which, like good Seed sown in the Field of Futurity, will often raise up unsolicited Friends, and yield a benevolent Harvest of unexpected Charities. But should the Fragrance of the Parent’s Virtue prove offensive to a perverse or envious Age, or even draw Persecution on the friendless Orphans, there is one in Heaven who will be more than a Father to them, and recompense their Parent’s Virtues by showering down Blessings on them. The Thoughts of leaving them in such good Hands sustain the honest Parent, and make him smile in the Agonies of Death; being secure that that almighty Friend, who has dispensed such a Profusion of Bounties to himself, cannot prove an unkind Guardian, or an unfaithful Trustee to his fatherless Offspring.—This leads to consider a sublime Motive, and noble Mould to Virtue, from whence it derives its firmest Support, and in which it receives its highest Finishing and Lustre.
Motives to Virtue from the Being and Providence of God
Two external Motives to VirtueBesides the interesting Motives mentioned in the last Section, there are two great Motives to Virtue, strictly connected with human Life, and resulting from the very Constitution of the human Mind. The First is the Being and Providence of God; the Second is the Immortality of the Soul, with future Rewards and Punishments.
Their ImportanceIt appears from Sect. 4. of Book II that Man, by the Constitution of his Nature, is designed to be a religious Creature. He is intimately connected with the Deity, and necessarily dependent on him. From that Connection and necessary Dependence result various Obligations and Duties, without fulfilling which, some of his sublimest Powers and Affections would be incomplete and abortive. If he be likewise an immortal Creature, and if his present Conduct shall affect his future Happiness in another State as well as in the present, it is evident that we take only a partial View of the Creature if we leave out this important Property of his Nature, and make a partial Estimate of human Life, if we strike out of the Account, or over-look that Part of his Duration which runs out into Eternity.—We shall therefore consider the Motives which arise from the former Connection in this Section, and those arising from the latter in the next.
PietyIt is evident from the above-mentioned Section,* that “to have a Respect to the Deity in our Temper and Conduct, to venerate and love his Character, to adore his Goodness, to depend upon and resign ourselves to his Providence, to seek his Approbation, and act under a Sense of his Authority, is a fundamental Part of moral Virtue, and the Completion of the highest Destination of our Nature.”
A Support to VirtueBut as Piety is an essential Part of Virtue, so likewise it is a great Support and Enforcement to the Practice of it. To contemplate and admire a Being of such transcendent Dignity and Perfection as God, must naturally and necessarily open and enlarge the Mind, give a Freedom and Ampleness to its Powers, and a Grandeur and Elevation to its Aims. For, as an excellent Divine† observes, “the Greatness of an Object, and the Excellency of the Act of any Agent about a transcendent Object, doth mightily tend to the Enlargement and Improvement of his Faculties.” Little Objects, mean Company, mean Cares, and mean Business cramp the Mind, contract its Views, and give it a creeping Air and Deportment. But when it soars above mortal Cares and mortal Pursuits, into the Regions of Divinity, and converses with the greatest and best of Beings, it spreads itself into a wider Compass, takes higher Flights in Reason and Goodness, and becomes God-like in its Air and Manners. Virtue is, if one may say so, both the Effect and Cause of Largeness of Mind. It requires that one think freely, and act nobly. Now what can conduce more to Freedom of Thought and Dignity of Action, than to conceive worthily of God, to reverence and adore his unrivalled Excellency, to imitate and transcribe that Excellency into our own Nature, to remember our Relation to him, and that we are the Image and Representatives of his Glory to the rest of the Creation? Such Feelings and Exercises must and will make us scorn all Actions that are base, unhandsome, or unworthy our State; and the Relation we stand in to God, will irradiate the Mind with the Light of Wisdom, and ennoble it with the Liberty and Dominion of Virtue.
A Guard and Enforcement to VirtueThe Influence and Efficacy of Religion may be considered in another Light. We all know the Presence of a Friend, a Neighbour, or any Number of Spectators, but especially an august Assembly of them, to be a considerable Check upon the Conduct of one who is not lost to a Sense of Honour and Shame, and contributes to restrain many irregular Sallies of Passion. In the same manner we may imagine, that the Awe of some superior Mind, who is supposed privy to our secret Conduct, and armed with full Power to reward or punish it, will impose a Restraint on us in such Actions as fall not under the Controul or Animadversion of others. If we go still higher, and suppose our inmost Thoughts and darkest Designs, as well as our most secret Actions, to lie open to the Notice of the supreme and universal Mind, who is both the Spectator and Judge of human Actions, it is evident that the Belief of so august a Presence, and such awful Inspection, must carry a Restraint and Weight with it proportioned to the Strength of that Belief, and be an additional Motive to the Practice of many Duties which would not have been performed without it.—As our Sense of Honour or Blame is increased in proportion to the Esteem we have of those who bestow either, shall we suppose no Sensibility to the Applause, or Censure of him whom we believe to be the Judge as well as Standard of all Perfection? And if we suppose such a Sensibility, can we deny that it will operate on every Mind which feels it, both as an Incentive to deserve that Applause and as a Guard to avoid that Censure? We may suppose some Cases in which the virtuous Man, through the Force of Prejudices against him, and because of the false Lights in which his Actions are viewed, may be tempted to renounce the honest Cause by which he happens to incur Reproach or Ridicule. But if he can make his Appeal from the Opinions of Men to the Searcher of Hearts, it is evident that the Consciousness of so high a Sanction may bear him out in his Course, and consequently be a Support to his Virtue, and in due time may teach him to despise the Strife of Tongues, nay the utmost Efforts of Malice and Envy.
In Cases of the greatest TrialBut a good Man may likewise fall a Sacrifice to Power or to Injustice; his Life may be a Series of Misfortunes, and his Virtue may have exposed him to many of them; the Constitution and State of his Body, and peculiar Pressures on his Mind, may incapacitate him for enjoying the natural Fruits of Virtue, at least with an high Relish. How supporting in such a Case, nay how preservative must it be to his Integrity, and what an Antidote against that Gloom and Fretfulness which are apt to invade the Mind in such Circumstances of Trial, to believe that infinite Wisdom and Goodness preside in the Universe;—that every Event being under their Direction, is the Cause or Consequence of some greater Good to him, or to the whole;—that those Misfortunes which befall him are appointed by Heaven to correct his Follies, to improve or secure his Virtues, and consequently to increase his Happiness! These Sentiments thoroughly felt must and will serve as a Charm to sooth his Sorrows, and confirm his Loyalty and Resignation to the supreme Providence.
In fine, let the Disposition of external Causes be ever so unfavourable to the good Man, yet, as he is conscious that the almighty Governor is his Parent, Patron and Friend, he may rest secure that he will either sustain and guard him in the midst of his Troubles, or direct and over-rule them to his greatest Good.
Exercises of Piety improving to VirtueIt may be observed farther, that “to live under an habitual Sense of the Deity and his great Administration, is to be conversant with Wisdom, Order and Beauty in the highest Subjects, and to receive the delightful Reflections and benign Feelings which these excite, while they irradiate upon him from every Scene of Nature and Providence.” How improving must such Views be to the Mind, in dilating and exalting it above those puny Interests and Competitions which agitate and enflame the Bulk of Mankind against each other! What genial and propitious Influence on the Temper must the Admiration and Love of Divine Goodness have, when it is considered as diffused through infinite Space, to infinite Races of Creatures, and stretching from Eternity to Eternity! What Candor, Mildness, Benignity of Heart, and what Grandeur as well as Sweetness of Manners must it inspire? To conclude, with what alluring and commanding Energy must his Benefits call forth our Gratitude, his Example our Imitation, his Wisdom, Power and Goodness, our Confidence and Hope, his Applause our Ambition to deserve it? And how must his Presence strongly believed, or rather powerfully felt, enliven and fortify these and every other Principle of Virtue?
Motive to Virtue from the Immortality of the Soul, &c.
Metaphysical Arguments for its ImmortalityThe other Motive mentioned was the Immortality of the Soul, with future Rewards and Punishments. The metaphysical Proofs of the Soul’s Immortality, are commonly drawn from its simple, uncompounded, and indivisible Nature, from whence it is concluded, that it cannot be corrupted or extinguished by a Dissolution or Destruction of Parts,—from its having a Beginning of Motion within itself, whence it is inferred, that it cannot discontinue and lose its Motion,—from the different Properties of Matter and Mind, the Sluggishness and Inactivity of one, and the immense Activity of the other, its prodigious Flight of Thought and Imagination, its Penetration, Memory, Foresight, and Anticipations of Futurity, from whence it is concluded, that a Being of so divine a Nature cannot be extinguished. But as these metaphysical Proofs depend on intricate Reasonings concerning the Nature, Properties, and Distinctions of Body and Mind, with which we are not very well acquainted, they are not obvious to ordinary Understandings, and are seldom so convincing even to those of higher Reach, as not to leave some Doubts behind them. Therefore perhaps it is not so safe to rest the Proof of such an important Article, on what many may call the Subleties of School-Learning. Those Proofs which are brought from Analogy, from the moral Constitution and Phenomena of the human Mind, the moral Attributes of God, and the present Course of Things, and which are therefore called the moral Arguments, are the plainest, and generally the most satisfying. We shall select only one or two from the rest.
Moral Proof from AnalogyIn tracing the Nature and Destination of any Being, we form the surest Judgment from his Powers of Action, and the Scope and Limits of these compared with his State, or with that Field in which they are exercised. If this Being passes through different States, or Fields of Action, and we find a Succession of Powers adapted to the different Periods of his Progress, we conclude that he was destined for those successive States, and reckon his Nature Progressive. If, besides the immediate Set of Powers which fit him for Action in his present State, we observe another Set which appears superfluous, if he was to be confined to it, and which point to another or higher one, we naturally conclude, that he is not designed to remain in his present State, but to advance to that for which those supernumerary Powers are adapted. Thus we argue that the Insect, which has Wings forming or formed, and all the Apparatus proper for Flight, is not destined always to creep on the Ground, or to continue in the torpid State of adhering to a Wall, but is designed in its Season to take its Flight in Air. Without this farther Destination, the admirable Mechanism of Wings and the other Apparatus, would be useless and absurd. The same kind of Reasoning may be applied to Man, while he lives only a sort of vegetative Life in the Womb. He is furnished even there with a beautiful Apparatus of Organs, Eyes, Ears, and other delicate Senses, which receive Nourishment indeed, but are in a manner folded up, and have no proper Exercise or Use in their present Confinement.* Let us suppose some intelligent Spectator, who had never any Connection with Man, nor the least Acquaintance with human Affairs, to see this odd Phenomenon, a Creature formed after such a manner, and placed in a Situation apparently unsuitable to such various Machinery, must he not be strangely puzzled about the Use of his complicated Structure, and reckon such a Profusion of Art and admirable Workmanship lost on the Subject; or reason by Way of Anticipation, that a Creature, endued with such various, yet unexerted Capacities, was destined for a more enlarged Sphere of Action, in which those latent Capacities shall have full Play? The vast Variety, and yet beautiful Symmetry and Proportions of the several Parts and Organs with which the Creature is endued, and their apt Cohesion with, and Dependence on, the curious Receptacle of their Life and Nourishment, would forbid his concluding the Whole to be the Birth of Chance, or the bungling Effort of an unskilful Artist, at least would make him demur a-while at so harsh a Sentence. But if, while he is in this State of Uncertainty, we suppose him to see the Babe, after a few successful Struggles, throwing off his Fetters, breaking loose from his little dark Prison, and emerging into open Day, then unfolding his recluse and dormant Powers, breathing in Air, gazing at Light, admitting Colours, Sounds, and all the fair Variety of Nature, immediately his Doubts clear up, the Propriety and Excellency of the Workmanship dawn upon him with full Lustre, and the whole Mystery of the first Period is unravelled by the opening of this new Scene. Though in this second Period the Creature lives chiefly a kind of animal Life, i.e. of Sense and Appetite, yet by various Trials and Observations, he gains Experience, and by the gradual Evolution of the Powers of Imagination, he ripens apace for an higher Life, for exercising the Arts of Design and Imitation, and of those in which Strength or Dexterity are more requisite than Acuteness or Reach of Judgment. In the succeeding rational or intellectual Period, his Understanding, which formerly crept in a lower, mounts into an higher Sphere, canvasses the Natures, judges of the Relations of Things, forms Schemes, deduces Consequences from what is past, and from present as well as past, collects future Events. By this Succession of States, and of correspondent Culture, he grows up at length into a moral, a social, and a political Creature. This is the last Period, at which we perceive him to arrive in this his mortal Career. Each Period is introductory to the next succeeding one; each Life is a Field of Exercise and Improvement for the next higher one, the Life of the Foetus for that of the Infant, the Life of the Infant for that of the Child, and all the lower for the highest and best.* —But is this the last Period of Nature’s Progression? Is this the utmost Extent of her Plot, where she winds up the Drama, and dismisses the Actor into eternal Oblivion? Or does he appear to be invested with supernumerary Powers, which have not full Exercise and Scope, even in the last Scene, and reach not that Maturity or Perfection of which they are capable; and therefore point to some higher Scene, where he is to sustain another and more important Character than he has yet sustained? If any such there are, may we not conclude by Analogy, or in the same Way of Anticipation as before, that he is destined for that After-part, and is to be produced upon a more august and solemn Stage, where his sublimer Powers shall have proportioned Action, and its Nature attain its Completion?
Powers in Man which point to an After-LifeIf we attend to that Curiosity, or prodigious Thirst of Knowledge, which is natural to the Mind in every Period of its Progress, and consider withal the endless Round of Business and Care, and the various Hardships to which the Bulk of Mankind are chained down,Intellectual it is evident, that in this present State, it is imposible to expect the Gratification of an Appetite at once so insatiable and so noble. Our Senses, the ordinary Organs by which Knowledge is let into the Mind, are always imperfect, and often fallacious; the Advantages of assisting, or correcting them, are possessed by few; the Difficulties of finding out Truth amidst the various and contradictory Opinions, Interests, and Passions of Mankind, are many; and the Wants of the Creature, and of those with whom he is connected, numerous and urgent; so that it may be said of most Men, that their intellectual Organs are as much shut up and secluded from proper Nourishment and Exercise in that little Circle to which they are confined, as the bodily Organs are in the Womb. Nay, those who to an aspiring Genius have added all the Assistances of Art, Leisure, and the most liberal Education, what narrow Prospects can even they take of this unbounded Scene of Things from that little Eminence on which they stand? And how eagerly do they still grasp at new Discoveries, without any Satisfaction or Limit to their Ambition?
Moral PowersBut should it be said, that Man is made for Action, and not for Speculation, or fruitless Searches after Knowledge, we ask, for what kind of Action? Is it only for bodily Exercises, or for moral, political, and religious ones? Of all these he is capable, yet by the unavoidable Circumstances of his Lot, he is tied down to the former, and has hardly any Leisure to think of the latter, or, if he has, wants the proper Instruments of exerting them. The Love of Virtue, of one’s Friends and Country, the generous Sympathy with Mankind, and heroic Zeal of doing Good, which are all so natural to great and good Minds, and some Traces of which are found in the lowest, are seldom united with proportioned Means or Opportunities of exercising them; so that the moral Spring, the noble Energies and Impulses of the Mind, can hardly find proper Scope, even in the most fortunate Condition; but are much depressed in some, and almost entirely restrained in the Generality, by the numerous Clogs of an indigent, sickly, or embarrassed Life. Were such mighty Powers, such God-like Affections planted in the human Breast to be folded up in the narrow Womb of our present Existence, never to be produced into a more perfect Life, nor to expatiate in the ample Career of Immortality?
Unsatisfied Desires of Existence and Happiness, &c.Let it be considered, at the same time, that no Possession, no Enjoyment within the Round of Mortal Things is commensurate to the Desires, or adequate to the Capacities of the Mind. The most envied Condition has its Abatements, the happiest Conjuncture of Fortune leaves many Wishes behind, and after the highest Gratifications the Mind is carried forward in Pursuit of new ones without End. Add to all, the fond Desire of Immortality, the secret Dread of Non-existence, and the high unremitting Pulse of the Soul beating for Perfection, joined to the Improbability or the Impossibility of attaining it here; and then judge whether this elaborate Structure, this magnificent Apparatus of inward Powers and Organs, does not plainly point out an Here-after, and intimate Eternity to Man? Does Nature give the finishing Touches to the lesser and ignobler Instances of her Skill, and raise every other Creature to the Maturity and Perfection of his Being, and shall she leave her principal Workmanship unfinished? Does she carry the Vegetative and Animal Life in Man to their full Vigour, and highest Destination, and shall she suffer his Intellectual, his Moral, his Divine Life to fade away, and be for ever extinguished? Would such Abortions in the moral World be congruous to that Perfection of Wisdom and Goodness, which upholds and adorns the Natural?
Therefore Man immortalWe must therefore conclude, from this Detail, that the Present State, even at its best, is only the Womb of Man’s Being, in which the noblest Principles of his Nature are in a manner fettered, or secluded from a correspondent Sphere of Action, and therefore destined for a future and unbounded State, where they shall emancipate themselves, and exert the Fulness of their Strength. The most accomplished Mortal, in this low and dark Apartment of Nature, is only the Rudiments of what he shall be, when he takes his Etherial Flight, and puts on Immortality. Without a Reference to that State, Man were a mere Abortion, a rude unfinished Embryo, a Monster in Nature. But this being once supposed, he still maintains his Rank, of the Master-piece of the Creation; his latent Powers are all suitable to the Harmony and Progression of Nature, his noble Aspirations, and the Pains of his Dissolution, are his Efforts toward a second Birth, the Pangs of his Delivery into Light, Liberty, and Perfection; and Death, his Discharge from Gaol, his Separation from his Fellow-Prisoners, and Introduction into the Assembly of those heroic Spirits who are gone before him, and of their great eternal Parent. The Fetters of his Mortal Coil being loosened, and his Prison-Walls broke down, he will be bare and open on every Side to the Admission of Truth and Virtue, and their fair Attendant, Happiness; every Vital and Intellectual Spring will evolve itself, with a divine Elasticity, in the free Air of Heaven. He will not then peep at the Universe and its glorious Author through a dark Grate, or a gross Medium, nor receive the Reflections of his Glory through the strait Openings of sensible Organs, but will be all Eye, all Air, all Etherial and Divine Feeling* .—Let one part however of the Analogy be attended to, that, as in the Womb we receive our Original Constitution, Form, and the essential Stamina of our Being, which we carry along with us into the Light, and which greatly affect the succeeding Periods of our Life; so our Temper and Condition in the future Life will depend on the Conduct we have observed, and the Character we have formed in the present Life. We are here in Miniature what we shall be at full Length here-after. The first rude Sketch, or Out-lines of Reason and Virtue, must be drawn at present, to be afterwards enlarged to the Stature and Beauty of Angels.
Immortality a Guard and Incentive to VirtueThis, if duly attended to, must prove not only a Guard, but an admirable Incentive to Virtue. For he who faithfully and ardently follows the Lights of Knowledge, and pants after higher Improvements in Virtue, will be wonderfully animated and inflamed in that Pursuit, by a full Conviction that the Scene does not close with Life—that his Struggles arising from the Weakness of Nature, and the Strength of Habit, will be turned into Triumphs—that his Career in the Tracks of Wisdom and Goodness will be both swifter and smoother—and those generous Ardors with which he glows towards Heaven, i.e. the Perfection and Immortality of Virtue, will find their adequate Object and Exercise in a Sphere proportionably enlarged, incorruptible, immortal. On the other hand, what an inexpressible Damp must it be to the good Man, to dread the total Extinction of that Light and Virtue, without which Life, nay Immortality itself, were not worth a single Wish?
Proof from the Inequality of present DistributionsMany Writers draw their Proofs of the Immortality of the Soul, and of a future State of Rewards and Punishments, from the unequal Distribution of these here. It cannot be dissembled that wicked Men often escape the outward Punishment due to their Crimes, and do not feel the inward in that measure their Demerit seems to require, partly from the Callousness induced upon their Nature by the Habits of Vice, and partly from the Dissipation of their Minds abroad by Pleasure or Business—and sometimes good Men do not reap all the natural and genuine Fruits of their Virtue, through the many unforeseen or unavoidable Calamities in which they are involved. This no doubt, upon the Supposition of an all-wise and good Providence, where an Argument, and a strong one too, for a future State, in which those Inequalities shall be corrected. But unless we suppose a prepollent good Order in the present Scene of Things, we weaken the Proof of the Divine Administration, and the Presumption of any better Order in any future Period of it.
Belief of Immortality, &c. a great Support amidst TrialsFrom Section the second of this Book it appears, that Virtue has present Rewards, and Vice present Punishments annexed to it, such Rewards and Punishments as make Virtue, in most Cases that happen, far more eligible than Vice; but, in the infinite Variety of Human Contingencies, it may sometimes fall out, that the inflexible Practice of Virtue shall deprive a Man of considerable Advantages to himself, his Family or Friends, which he might gain by a well-timed piece of Roguery, suppose by betraying his Trust, voting against his Conscience, selling his Country, or any other Crime, where the Security against Discovery shall heighten the Temptation. Or, it may happen, that a strict Adherence to his Honour, to his Religion, to the Cause of Liberty and Virtue, shall expose him, or his Family, to the Loss of every thing, nay to Poverty, Slavery, Death itself, or to Torments far more intolerable. Now, what shall secure a Man’s Virtue in Circumstances of such Trial? What shall enforce the Obligations of Conscience against the Allurements of so many Interests, the Dread of so many and so terrible Evils, and the almost unsurmountable Aversion of human Nature to excessive Pain? The Conflict is the greater, when the Circumstances of the Crime are such as easily admit a Variety of Alleviations from Necessity, Natural Affection, Love to one’s Family, or Friends, perhaps in Indigence? These will give it even the Air of Virtue. Add to all, that the Crime may be thought to have few bad Consequences,—may be easily concealed—or imagined possible to be retrieved in a good measure, by future good Conduct. It is obvious to which Side most Men will lean in such a Case, and how much need there is of a Balance in the opposite Scale, from the Consideration of a God, of a Providence, and of an immortal State of Retribution, to keep the Mind firm and uncorrupt in those or like Instances of singular Trial, or Distress.
In the general Course of LifeBut without supposing such peculiar Instances, a Sense of a Governing Mind, and a Persuasion that Virtue is not only befriended by him here, but will be crowned by him hereafter with Rewards suitable to its Nature, vast in themselves, and immortal in their Duration, must be not only a mighty Support and Incentive to the Practice of Virtue, but a strong Barrier against Vice. The Thoughts of an almighty Judge and of an impartial future Reckoning, are often alarming, inexpressibly so, even to the stoutest Offenders. On the other hand, how supporting must it be to the good Man, to think that he acts under the Eye of his Friend, as well as Judge! How improving, to consider the present State as connected with a future one, and every Relation in which he stands as a School of Discipline for his Affections, every Trial as the Exercise of some Virtue, and the virtuous Deeds which result from both, as introductory to higher Scenes of Action and Enjoyment! Finally, how transporting is it to view Death as his Discharge from the Warfare of Mortality, and a triumphant Entry into a State of Freedom, Security and Perfection in which Knowledge and Wisdom shall break upon him from every Quarter; where each Faculty shall have its proper Object, and his Virtue, which was often damped or defeated here, shall be enthroned in undisturbed and eternal Empire!
Advantages of the Christian Scheme, and its Connection with Natural Religion or MoralityOn reviewing this short System of Morals, and the Motives which support and enforce it, and comparing both with the ChristianScheme, what Light and Vigour do they borrow from thence! How clearly and fully does Christianity lay open the Connections of our Nature, both material and immaterial, and future as well as present! What an ample and beautiful Detail does it present of the Duties we owe to God, to Society and Ourselves, promulgated in the most simple, intelligible, and popular manner; divested of every Partiality of Sect or Nation; and adapted to the general State of Mankind! With what bright and alluring Examples does it illustrate and recommend the Practice of those Duties; and with what mighty Sanctions does it enforce that Practice! How strongly does it describe the Corruptions of our Nature; the Deviations of our Life from the Rule of Duty; and the Causes of both! How marvellous and benevolent a Plan of Redemption does it unfold, by which those Corruptions may be remedied, and our Nature restored from its Deviations, to transcendent Heights of Virtue and Piety! Finally, what a fair and comprehensive Prospect does it give us of the Administration of God, of which it represents the present State only as a small Period; and a Period of Warfare and Trial! How solemn and unbounded are the Scenes which it opens beyond it; the Resurrection of the Dead; the General Judgment; the Equal Distribution of Rewards and Punishments to the Good and the Bad; and the full Completion of Divine Wisdom and Goodness in the final Establishment of Order, Perfection and Happiness!—How glorious then is that Scheme of Religion, and how worthy of Affection as well as of Admiration, which, by making such Discoveries, and affording such Assistances, has disclosed the unfading Fruits and Triumphs of Virtue, and secured its Interests beyond the Power of Time and Chance!
RecapitulationWe have now considered the Constitution and Connections of Man, and deduced the several Duties resulting from both. We have investigated some of the Methods by which his Constitution may be preserved in a sound and healthful State, or restored to it. We have enquired into the FinalCauses of his Constitution, and found its admirable Harmony with his Situation. And, lastly, we have enumerated the principal Motives which inforce the Practice of the Duties, incumbent on a Creature so constituted, and so situated.
ResultFrom this Deduction it appears, that “Man is a Creature endued with a Variety of Senses, Powers and Passions, subject to a Variety of Wants and Dangers, environed with many Natural, and capable of forming many CivilConnections; bound to many Duties in consequence of such a Nature, such a Situation, and such Connections, and susceptible of many Enjoyments in the Discharge of them.”—It farther appears, that “the Sum of those Duties may be reduced to such a Conduct of his Senses, Powers and Passions, as is duly proportioned to his Wants, to his Dangers, and to his Connections;—that this Conduct is most approved in the mean time, and yields the most refined and lasting Pleasures afterwards;—that particularly, the Exercise of the public Affections is attended with Enjoyments, the greatest in Dignity and Duration;—and in the largest Sum of such Pleasures and Enjoyments his highest Happiness consists. Therefore, to keep those refined Sources of Enjoyment always open, and, in cases of Competition, to sacrifice the Lower kinds, i.e. those of Sense and Appetite, to the Higher, i.e. to those of Reason, of Virtue and Piety, is not real Self-Denial, but the truest Wisdom and the justest Estimate of Happiness.—And to shut up the nobler Springs, or to sacrifice the higher to the lower kinds, is not Self-Indulgence, but the Height of Folly, and a wrong Calculation of Happiness.”
The happiest YouthThereforeHe who, in his Youth, improves his Intellectual Powers in the Search of Truth and useful Knowledge; and refines and strengthens his Moral and Active Powers, by the Love of Virtue, for the Service of his Friends, his Country and Mankind; who is animated by true Glory, exalted by sacred Friendship for Social, and softened by virtuous Love for Domestic Life; who lays his Heart open to every other mild and generous Affection, and who, to all these adds a sober masculine Piety, equally remote from Superstition and Enthusiasm, that Man enjoys the most agreeable Youth; and lays in the richest Fund for the honourable Action, and happy Enjoyment of the succeeding Periods of Life.
The happiest ManhoodHe who, in Manhood, keeps the Defensive and Private Passions under the wisest Restraint; who forms the most select and virtuous Friendships; who seeks after Fame, Wealth and Power in the Road of Truth and Virtue, and, if he cannot find them in that Road, generously despises them; who, in his private Character and Connections gives fullest Scope to the tender and manly Passions, and in his public Character and Connections serves his Country and Mankind, in the most upright and disinterested manner: who, in fine, enjoys the Goods of Life with the greatest Moderation, bears its Ills with the greatest Fortitude; and in those various Circumstances of Duty and Trial maintains and expresses an habitual and supreme Reverence and Love of God;ThatMan is the worthiest Character in this Stage of Life; passes through it with the highest Satisfaction and Dignity; and paves the Way to the most easy and honourable Old-age.
The happiest Old-ageFinally, He who, in the Decline ofLife preserves himself most exempt from the Chagrins incident to that Period; cherishes the most equal and kind Affections; uses his Experience, Wisdom and Authority in the most fatherly and venerable manner; acts under a Sense of the Inspection, and with a View to the Approbation of his Maker; is daily aspiring after Immortality, and ripening apace for it; and having sustained his Part with Integrity and Consistency to the last, quits the Stage with a modest and graceful Triumph; This is the best, this is the happiestOld-man.
The happiest LifeTherefore that whole Life of Youth, Manhood and Old-age which is spent after this manner, is the best and the happiestLife.
The good Man“He, who has the strongest Original Propension to such Sentiments and Dispositions, has the best Natural Temper.” “He, who cultivates them with the greatest Care, is the most Virtuous Character.”The Virtuous, “He, who knows to indulge them in the most discreet and consistent manner, is the Wisest.”The Wise, the Fortunate Man “And He, who, with the largest Capacities, has the best Opportunities of indulging them, is the most Fortunate.”
A Life according to Nature“To form our Life upon this Plan is to Follow Nature,” that is to say, “to act in a Conformity to our Original Constitution, and in a Subordination to the Eternal Order of Things. And, by acting in this manner, (so benevolently are we formed by our common Parent!) we effectually promote and secure our highest Interest.”Duty, Wisdom and Happiness are oneThus, at last it appears, (and who would not rejoice in so Divine a Constitution?) that “Duty, Wisdom and Happinesscoincide, and are one.”
The Sum and Perfection of VirtueTo conclude: “Virtue is the highest Exercise and Improvement of Reason; the Integrity, the Harmony, and just Balance of Affection; the Health, Strength and Beauty of the Mind.” “The Perfection of Virtue is to give Reasonfree Scope; to obey the Authority of Conscience with Alacrity; to exercise the Defensive Passions with Fortitude; the Private with Temperance; the Public with Justice; and all of them with Prudence; that is, in a due Proportion to each other, and an entire Subserviency to a calm diffusiveBenevolence;—to adore and loveGod with a disinterested and unrivalledAffection; and to acquiesce in his Providence with a joyful Resignation.” “Every Approach to this Standard is an Approach to Perfection and Happiness. And every Deviation from it, a Deviation to Vice and Misery.”
A noble and joyful CorollaryFrom this whole Review of HumanNature, the most divine and joyful of all Truths breaks upon us with full Evidence and Lustre; “That Man is liberally provided with Senses and Capacities for enjoying Happiness; furnished with Means for attaining it; taught by his Nature where it lies; prompted by his Passionswithin, and his Conditionwithout, powerfully to seek it; and, by the wise and benevolentOrder of Heaven, often conducted to the Welfare of the Particular, and always made subservient to the Good of the UniversalSystem.”
F I N I S.
A brief Account of the Nature, Progress, and Origin of Philosophy delivered by the late Mr. David Fordyce, P. P. Marish. Col: Abdn to his Scholars, before they begun their Philosophical course. Anno 1743/4.
1. Philosophy, a thing much talked of but little understood by the generality, is defined by Cicero the great interpreter of the Greecian Philosophy: The knowledge of things divine & humane.1 But the definition of it given by Pythagoras seems to express the nature with much more clearness & precisness. He calls Philosophy the knowledge of things which are of being, which have a real existence. Or still more distinctly, Philosophy may be described to be The Study & knowledge of the nature & laws of things, & their established connections with proper reasonings upon them.
2. The (to pan) Universe, or which system of things is independant on man, who is only a part; & perhaps a very inconsiderable one of the great whole. For the Supreme Being by whom the World was made has formed the natures & connections of things, & by laws adapted to the peculiar constitutions of his Creatures, & productive of the greatest good upon the whole, does wisely produce every change & event that happens in the Universe. The operation of the Deity by those laws or according to those settled rules, & the regular & uniform alterations of things produced by them, are named the Course or Phenomena of Nature or the providence of God.
3. The almighty God has placed upon this Earth a great variety of sensible & intellectual beings rising the one above the other in a beautiful state of perfection; yet on man alone has he bestowed senses & powers which fit him for examining the Nature & laws of the universe, with abilities to deduce from thence in some measure the knowledge of the Deity of nature, & his own obligations in duty.
4. But tho men have those superior powers they cannot attain to knowledge without labour & attention. We come into the world destitute of the knowledge of things, ignorant of ourselves & of our connections with those beings that surround us, & of the relation of things to each other. By slow degrees we receive our different perceptions or Ideas of things above us & learn by Experience what feelings we shall have in certain given circumstances, & what connections our Ideas have among themselves, & by what means alterations may be made in things without us or in the perceptions of ourselves & others; hence it is evident that setting aside sovreign instruction, true knowledge must be acquired by slow degrees from experience & observation, & that it will always be proportionate to the largeness & extent of our Experience.
5. The powers of our minds, tho noble of themselves & admirably fitted for our present state of probation, & this infancy of our existence are limited & narrow, & unable at one view to take in the whole August Drama of Nature or Providence which is presented to us & acted before us. For while we are intent upon one scene, an infinity of others skip & pass by us without being Observed, & of that to which we do attend many parts escape the notice of the most accurate Spectator. Was man therefore to owe his whole stock of knowledge to the gleanings of his own observation during this short period of his present life, his Acquisitions would be very inconsiderable; But to remedy this inconveniency the bountiful Author of our Nature has made us social creatures & by giving us power to communicate our Observations to one another, has enabled us to reap the benefit of the experience of others who have examined different parts of nature or perhaps the same part more accurately than ourselves.
6. The knowledge then of the nature, laws & connections of things is, as has been observed, Philosophy; and they who apply to the study of these, & from thence deduce rules for the conduct & improvement of human life, are Philosophers. They who consider things as they are or as they exist, & draw right conclusions from thence, are true Philosophers. But they who without regard to fact or nature indulge themselves in framing systems to which they afterwards reduce all appearances, are, notwithstanding their ingenuity & subtilty, to be reckoned only the corrupters & enemies of true learning.
7. From this short deduction concerning the nature of Philosophy, & the Origin of our knowledge, it will appear that in the early ages of the world, the beginnings of Philosophy have been very inconsiderable & its progress slow. For before Societies were constituted & arts & sciences invented & separated, the attention of the generality of mankind was turned upon procuring the necessaries of life. And their wandring & unsettled way of life before the establishment of States & politics was doubtless a very great Obstacle to the progress of knowledge which takes deepest root & spreads widest amidst Ease & Security. We may therefore expect to find the beginnings of Arts & Sciences in those places where the first Governments & societies were formed.
8. As the East Countries were first peopled & formed into Empires & Governments, Science took its rise in them, & spread from thence thro’ the rest of the world. Now the first & most Ancient kingdom seems to have been that of Egypt; for the joint testimony of all antiquity concurs in asserting that the neighbouring Nations borrowed from this Mother Land both their religion & philosophy; indeed we only grope in the dark about the high Egyptian antiquities as there are few or no monuments of Egyptian wisdom transmitted to us. The books ascribed to Hermes Trismegistis2 tho’ very antient are spurious. The way their Priests had of concealing their science & philosophy, not only in Characters unknown to the vulgar but likewise in Hieroglyphics or Sacred sculpture & other mysterious symbols which none understood but the priests, or those initiated by them, & their great shyness in admitting initiates to the mysteries, are among the principal reasons of our ignorance of the Egyptian learning. Diodorus3 informs us that their chief study lay in Geometry, Arithmetick & Astronomy; & indeed the situation, & circumstances of their Country which was Annually overflown by the Nile put them upon studying them, that they might the better ascertain & secure their property; And Arithmetic was not only necessary to assist them in their measurings & geometrical Problems, but was peculiarly necessary in the common practice & commerce of life, in so great & civilized a nation. Their Astronomy was chiefly adapted to the uses of Agriculture, & the settling their Calendar & Festivals. Politics & its inseparable attendant morals were likewise much studied here: their Architecture & the other elegant Arts of life, they seem to have carried to the utmost length, having exhibited the noblest specimens of Symmetry & grandeur in their publick works. They were likewise the first who collected Libraries, those treasures of Science, which they called The store house of the remedies of the soul.
9. Next to the Egyptians, the Assyrians, Persians & Indians are recorded for the wisdom of their Magi & Brachmans of whose principles we have but a very lame account left us. The Assyrians are reckoned among the first who applied to Letters; & the first imperial School was at Babylon, which continued till Nebuchadnezar the great & Daniel’s time. The Chaldaeans were reckoned their wise men, who were also called their Magi. Daniel was set over their Colleges & Accademies by the King; whence ’tis probable that they applied to studies of a legitimate kind, & to natural knowledge as well as to Astrology & other insignificant Arts. They were celebrated chiefly for their Skill in Geneaology & Astronomy. Pythagoras went among them to learn the motion of the Stars & the origin of the World on the two principal heads of natural Philosophy, viz. (Κοσμοσυσασις & Κοσμογονια or) the Constitution & generation of things. They thought that the matter of the world was eternal, but that it had the form & order from the divine providence. They ascribed the invention of their Philosophy to Zoroaster who reduced it to a System.
The Persians did the same, whose Magi or wise men presided over the education of the royal Children. They studied philosophy, divinity & politics, & taught the period & renovation of the world. They believed that the elements & Stars of heaven were Gods, of whom they chiefly adored the Fire & Sun; & by the name of Jupiter understood the whole circumference of the heavens.
The Indian Brachmans or Gymnosophists affected a solitary way of life, & underwent great Austerity. They taught a future state, & inculcated the offices of Justice & Virtue. Besides their morals, they applied to Physiology & Astronomy, & believed the formation of our World from water, but of the Universe from other principles; The Soul’s incorruptibility and the (palingenesia or) regeneration of all things. In a word all the ancient kingdoms boasted of their learned men.
The Phenicians had their Sanhuniathon4 & were celebrated as the first who invented or at least introduced letters & Characters under Cadmus into Greece. They were likewise famous for their skill in Astronomy, Navigation, Arithmetic, Mechanics, & the other Arts of a civilized life; to which indeed their extensive commerce with the rest of the World did in a manner entitle them.
The Chinese were celebrated for their skill in Religion, Politics & Morals, which they principally owed to their great Confucius. Even the barbarous northern nations, the Germans, Britons & the ancient Celts had their learned Druids & Bards whose knowledge was chiefly traditionary, (or patroparodotoc) for we do not hear that they committed any thing to writing, which is the reason why we know so little about their Philosophy or Maxims.
10. But leaving those things which are buried in obscurity we proceed to Greece, that favourite Country, where Arts & Sciences made quickest progress & arrived at their greatest perfection. And here we may trace the greek learning from its Original having proper records to depend on. These inform us that Greece was form’d with Colonies from Egypt and the other Eastern Nations, who we may believe carried the Religion & Arts of their Parent Country along with them; And indeed the learning of Ancient Greece wore the strongest Features of Resemblance to the Egyptian, consisting chiefly in Fables & Allegories, short but pithy sentences & dark Enigma’s.
11. The Poets Orpheus, Linus, & Hesiod are amongst the earliest Philosophers of Greece, for the Philosophic, Poetic, & often legislative characters were joined in the same persons; there being as yet no separation of the Sciences. The subjects which those old Poets sung required a considerable acquaintance with nature being the (θεαγονια or) Birth of the Gods or the generation of things. Hesiod5 whose (θεαγονια) Birth of the Gods has been preserved to our day, has interwoven with his poems many moral reflections & precepts which show him well acquainted with morals & life. Orpheus employed musick or numbers & verse, to humanize & soften the minds of his rude & savage Co-temporaries, & to insinuate his moral precepts with a more persuasive & irresistable charm. In a word all the greek Poets of note seem to have made no inconsiderable progress in Philosophy. And indeed if we consider: as an Imitator of Nature every Poet must be a Philosopher, for how can one copy what he knows not or imitate it?
12. The first who made it their business to instruct their Country men, & upon that account were dignifyed with the name of (Σοφοι or) Wise men, were the Seven famous Contemporaries, commonly called the seven wise men of Greece, viz. Thales of Miletus, Pittacus of Mytellene, Bias of Pryene, Solon of Athens, Cleobulus of Lindus, Miso of Lycaonia, & Chylo of Lacedemon. They flourished betwixt the 40th and 50th Olympiad 〈620–580 b.c.〉, & excepting Thales were all legislators in their respective States. The credit of Solon was much increas’d by a remarkable instance of his modesty, which happened on the following occasion. Some young men of Ionia bought a draught of the Milesian fishermen; when the net was drawn, there was found in it a golden Tripod of great value; hereupon there arose a dispute & the Oracle of Delphi was consulted, which returned this answer, That it should be given to the wisest. The Milesians presented it to Thales, he sent it to Bias, he again to Pittacus, & so going thro’ all the seven, it came at last to Solon, who affirming the Deity to be the wisest, consecrated the Tripod to Apollo. The knowledge of the (σοφοι) wise men was communicated in short sentences or Apothegms, several of which are transmitted to us by ancient writers, such as (γνω;θι σεαυτον) know thyself. They who have a mind to know more particulars about the early Sages may consult Diogenes Laertius & Plutarch.6
13. Thales was the founder of the Ionic Sect or School, as it was called, & flourished 500 years after the taking of Troy. He was one of the first Philosophers who travelled for the improvement of knowledge of Men & things, & who treated of nature simply without the disguise of Fable or shadowings of Allegory. He taught the immortality of the Soul, marked the solstices & Equinoxes, inscribed Triangles in Circles, & foretold the Eclipses of the Sun. He thought water the first principle of all things. And Anaxagoras his follower set a Mind over this fluid mass, & explained the digestion of this mass into order by the sole power of Gravity. The Ionic Philosophers thought that the Celestial Regions consisted of a thing subtile, or fluid; that the Planets were opaque bodies & the fixed stars firey. Nor were they ignorant of the earth’s motion.
After Thales philosophy became a profession, & was taught by Anaximander & Pythagoras & his disciples. The latter was the founder of the Italic School, heard Thales, & Phericydes & flourished about the 60th Olympiad 〈540–536 b.c.〉, that is, the 6th or 7th Century before Christ. He, to wit Pythagoras, travelled likewise in search of knowledge thro’ Egypt, Chaldea & Phenicia; he spent 22 years among the Egyptian Priests, visited the Oracles of Delphi, Delos & Crete, was initiated into all the mysteries of the Barbarians, as well as Greecians, & instructed in the whole learning of the East. He left Samos, & went to the south of Italy, called at that time Magna Greecia, now the kingdom of Naples, & set up a School at Crotona about the 62d Olympiad 〈532 b.c.〉. Pythagoras formed his Philosophy on the Egyptian plan, which he delivered chiefly in numbers & numerical Symbols; for he reckoned numbers the Causes & principles of things, & accordingly held the number four (τετραχις) in great veneration, which some explain of the Jewish (τετραγραμματον or) the name Jehovah.
It was not till after five years silence in a great variety of preparation in previous trials that his Scholars were admitted to the full knowledge of his Doctrine. He made great improvements in Geometry, Arithmetic & Music, & applied proportion of numbers & harmony to every thing, or at least made them his ordinary Symbols. He invented the 47th Proposition of Euclid’s first Book, & is said to have offered an Hecatomb on that account. He was so modest 〈he refused〉 the Appellation of (σοφος) Wise, & assumed that humble one of (φιλοσοφος) a lover of Wisdom.
He divided Philosophy into theoretical & practical: the end of the first is truth and to wonder at nothing, & that of the other Virtue & the liberty of the Soul, which he reckoned confined in the body as in a prison. His doctrine of the Transmigration of Souls is well known. To promote the enlargement or disengagement of the mind, he prescribed a very spare diet; forbade the eating of flesh, or killing of animals either for food or sacrifice; he himself lived on honey, bread, herbs & water. His direction to enquire into the actions of the day every evening is justly celebrated. He observed so much Order design & proportion in the structure of the Universe, that he gave it the name (Κοσμος) Order. He wrote several books which are all lost. The golden verses of Pythagoras, tho they contain the sum of the Pythagorean Doctrine, were not wrote by him but by Epicharmus or Empedocles. Pythagoras thought the Earth moveable & placed the Sun in the Center, which from him is called the Pythagorean System; he placed the Comets without Air & set them among the planets, & reckoned that the heavens were fluid & oetherial, & that the stars were so many worlds. You will find more particulars concerning Pythagoras & his Doctrine related by Diogenes Laertius, Iamblicus & Porphery, who have wrote his Life, & intermixed with it many ridiculous Stories. Of the Italic School were Architus Tarentinus, Ocellus, Lucanus, Epicharmus, Empedocles, Timaeus Locrus, and a great many Others.
14. To Thales in the Ionic School succeeded Anaximander a Milesian, who invented Gnomic’s or Dialing,7 & observed the obliquity of the Zodiac & likewise observed Equinoxes. To him again succeeded Anaximenes who held that Air was the first principle of all things. After him came Anaxagoras, who tho’ born to a great Fortune, left all to apply to Philosophy. In the 20th year of his Age, the first of the 75th Olympiad 〈480 b.c.〉, he went to Athens, where he continued 30 years, & for his great wisdom got the name of (Nouc) or Mind. He was banished from Athens in the 3d year of the 82d Olympiad 〈450 b.c.〉, & retiring to Lampsachon spent the rest of his days there. Archilaus was the Scholar of Anaxagoras, master of Socrates the celebrated Athenian Philosopher. About the time of Anaximander & Archilaus flourished Xenophanes the Colophonian the founder of the Eleatic Sect, which was a miscellaneous School consisting of philosophers differing in Nation, Opinions & Manners. Xenophanes thought there were innumerable worlds, infinite Suns, & Moons eternal & unchangeable. Parmenides, one of this Sect admitted an Origin of things, & that from Fire & Earth as Elements. Herein he agreed with Archilaus; for the Eliatics differ little from the Ionics about the origin of things, if they admitted any. For some of them took away all motion, without which there can be neither generation nor corruption. Some include Leusippus & Democrates in this Sect who brought in the hypothesis of Atoms, & with that a sounder way of Philosophizing by considering the State, motion, figure, situation & bulk of bodies, estimating their powers & explaining their effects from thence, not seeking as the Italic & other Philosophers, the principles of bodies & their power among numbers, proportions, ideas & the like. Leusippus owned the earths motion about its Axis & was followed by Democrates in physics, who conversed with the Magi, the Chaldean Priests & Arabians. The Attention of the Ionics from Thales’s time, had been almost wholly employed in natural Philosophy or Physics, in which very small progress was made, for a reason to be mentioned afterwards. It was SOCRATES that gave the proper turn to learning, & therefore is justly reckoned the Father of true Philosophy.
15. SOCRATES was born at Athens in the 77th Olympiad 〈472–469 b.c.〉, his father was Sophroniscus a statuary, & his mother Phaenoreta, a midwife. He followed for some time his father’s profession, but soon discovered such a genius and love for learning that CRITO, a rich Athenian, took him from the shop & gave him a liberal Education. Having observed of how little advantage the Philosophy then in repute was in life, Socrates, as Cicero expresses it, recalled Philosophy from the hidden & Obscure subjects about which his Predecessors had busied themselves & brought it down to common Life, to enquire into Good & Evil, Virtue & Vice & their Consequences. Hence, he is said to have fetcht Philosophy from the heavens, & to have introduced it into Cities houses & families. Man was the subject of his Philosophy, & its scope was to make men wiser, better & fitter for social & private life by inculcating the duties of Religion & Virtue. His method of teaching was remarkable, being admirably adapted to human nature. It was by asking Questions, beginning at the most plain & simple & proceeding from the answers given to others of a higher, more general & abstracted nature; he himself all the while affirming nothing. His method was founded upon the belief he had of the pre-existence of Souls, whose former knowledge was lost by being immersed in the body, & brought to remembrance again by instruction, or the method of interrogation. On this account he humourously used to say that his Art had some Affinity to his Mothers; for tho barren himself he assisted in bringing forth the Births of Others, or educing those latent principles of knowledge with which the mind of man was originally stored. His modesty was so great that he constantly said that he knew nothing save only that he knew nothing; & was for this saying honoured with the title of the wisest man by the Oracle of Apollo. We are not however to conclude from this that Socrates was a Sceptic; he seems only to have had a just Sense of the weakness of human Understanding, to have shunned determining in speculative points, & thought the great end of Philosophy was to enforce with proper inducements the practice of Virtue. He saw through the absurdity of the popular religion & thought that God made the world, knew all things & governed the Universe by his providence. He taught the immortality of the Soul & supported that doctrine by a variety of arguments, & besides inculcated a future state of rewards for the good & punishments for the wicked, & in a word he made such improvements in moral Philosophy that he seemed to have been the first that had just notions of the nature of man & his duty. In order to lay the deeper foundations for a genuine Philosophy, he endeavoured to remove the rubbish that lay in his way, those false opinions, inveterate prejudices, & high pretensions to wisdom which overrun Greece at that time. For this purpose, by his interrogatory method of reasoning, from him called the Socratic way, & likewise by a delicate & refined Irony, he exposed the Sophists, those high pretenders to wisdom who, without any real knowledge, pretended to know every thing & who professed to teach the Art of Speaking for & against every thing, a Race of men who then pestered the several Cities of Greece, & took upon them the care & education of the youth. In so ridiculous a light did he place them by his well timed & artful railery, & so thoroughly did he confute the sham pretensions of those Quacks & smatterers in learning that they concerted a design to bring about his ruin. Aristophanes the Comedian at their instigation introduced him upon the Stage, & by dressing him up in a false & unnatural Character made this great man, who with a patience truly philosophical was a Spectator of the play, ridiculous to the people.8 At last one Miletus accused him before the Senate of despising the Gods whom the city believd, & introducing new deities, and of corrupting the youth by his Philosophy; to the lasting reproach of his Judges this extraordinary & virtuous person was condemned to Death. The day before the execution of this sentence he reasoned with his friends concerning the immortality of the Soul, & expressed a particular pleasure in the hopes of meeting with Homer, Hesiod & other great men, who had died before him. In the evening the executioner brought him a Cup of poison, which with a chearful & undaunted mind he drunk of, & soon after expired in the 1st year of the 95th Olympiad 〈400 b.c.〉. The Athenians were soon so much ashamed of this infamous deed that they put his Accusers to death.
Tis generally thought that Socrates wrote nothing. We have a full account of his life & Philosophy in the writings of his Scholars, Xenophon, Aeschines & Plato. In the memorable things of Socrates wrote by Xenophon we have the best account of his reasoning, & likewise in the dialogues of Aeschines; for Plato in his dialogues has intermixt a great many of his own 〈ideas〉 which Socrates never taught, & has likewise adorned them with a profounder erudition, & more laboured & florid eloquence than Socrates used in his common conversation. Among his Schollars were Xenophon, Aeschines, Plato, Aristippus, Phaedo, Euclid of Megara, Cebes & many others.
16. Xenophon & Aeschines both Athenians were particular favourites of Socrates & committed his conversations in that simple & familiar way & manner in which Socrates talked & debated, some of which have happily reached our times. Xenophon was the son of Gyrgilles & was born about the 82d Olympiad 〈452 b.c.〉.9 He was in the Peloponnesian war along with Socrates & ever after followed a military life. He attended Cyrus the younger in his expedition into Asia against Artaxerxes the King of Persia; & is justly celebrated for that amazing instance of his wisdom & Valour, the conducting the extraordinary retreat of the Greeks after the defeat of Cyrus. He died at Corinth about the 105th Olympiad 〈360 b.c.〉. His books are reckoned among the purest of the Greek Classics, & discover him to have been a fine Gentleman, an able Captain & a great Scholar. Cebes of Thebes, another of Socrates’s Scholars, wrote several Dialogues one of which viz. The Tablature or Picture, that admirable draught of human life, has escaped the injury of time.10
17. Aristippus of Cyrene, a Scholar of Socrates but differing widely from the practice of his Master, founded the Cyrenaic Sect; they entirely rejected Virtue as a principle of Action, amiable in itself, & said that Justice & Honesty were only the institution of men. They made pleasure the ultimate end of all their actions, & Virtue had no farther place in their System than it was thought expedient or necessary to produce pleasure. This Sect was also called Hedonic, from the name (Ἥδονη) or Pleasure, & was divided into a great many Branches, one of which, called Theodorians from Theodorus their head, made profession of downright Atheism. Phaedo the Elian & Euclid of Megara were two other Scholars of Socrates. The first was the Author of the Eliac, & the last of the Megaric Sect. Tho’ we have no remains of the Eliac philosophy, yet we have reason to believe it differed very little from the Socratic. The Megaric Sect applied themselves mostly to the study of Logic & from thence were named (Dialektikon or) Reasoners or Logicians.
18. Antisthenes another Scholar of Socrates founded the Sect of the Cynics & had the famous Diogenes for his Scholar. They had learned from Socrates that morality was the usefullest of all Sciences, & from this they concluded absurdly enough that all other arts & sciences were to be despised. Their foundamental Maxim was to live in conformity to virtue, which they said was sufficient to make men happy. They sought Liberty & Independency as the greatest Good. The Gods, said they, stand in need of nothing & those that stand in need of few things do most resemble them. To procure this happy independency they pretended to look upon honour & Riches with perfect indifferency, & to renounce all the inconveniencies of Life. Diogenes would have no other habitation than a Tub, & when he found that he could drink out of the hollow of his hand, he threw away his wooden cup as a superfluity. Alexander the Great, coming to visit Diogenes in his Tub, asked him what he desired of him. “Nothing,” said the Philosopher, “but that you would not stand between me & the Sun.” The Cynics under pretence of following nature & living independently observed no decency in their conduct, & treated all the world with the utmost Contempt. The Stoicks shot out as a Branch from this Sect, who, from an Enthusiasm of temper pushed their Philosophy beyond the bounds of Nature, & placed Virtue in a total exemption from passion, or at least from the smallest degree of perturbation of Mind. So that they alledged their virtuous man was happy in evry state & circumstance of Life. (Liber, honouratus, pulcher, Rex denique Regum.)11 We have several noble relicks of the Stoical philosophy transmitted down to us from ancient times, in which we find the noblest precepts for the conduct of life & particularly for attaining that tranquility of mind & indifference about external things, without some degrees of which no man can be tollerably happy in this mixed uncertain & complicated scene of things. The Stoics however were more celebrated for their morals than for their Physics. They believed the conflagration of the world, called God the artificer of all things (the λογον δημιουρχον και τεχνικον) under whom they placed passive Matter. They distinguished between (σοιχεια)12 Elements & (αρχαι) Principles, reckoning the latter ungenerated, uncorporeal & uncompounded. By the former perhaps they understood the simple unformed (χυλη) Mass, & distinguished it from Body. They believed that a Fire was the first of Bodies which were made, & the rest of the Elements of it & of both all kind of mixed bodies, which, they said, were again resolved into fire. They called the Sun (πυρ ειλικρινης) Pure Fire, the Moon, (γεωδεσερα) of an earthly matter, & the Stars (πυρινα) of a firey nature, & likewise that some of them were higher than others in which they are supported by the modern Philosophy. Their Fate signified the unchangeable & immoveable order & series of things by which the Gods themselves were governed in their productions of things.
19. Of all the Scholars of Socrates, Plato made the greatest figure. He was born at Athens in the 88th Olympiad 〈428 b.c.〉. After he had heard & studied under Socrates he travelled into Egypt & Italy, & returning to Athens he taught Philosophy in the Accademy, the Gymnasium or place of exercise in the suburbs of the City, environed with woods & adorned with beautiful walks named from Accademus a private Gentleman to whom it first belonged.
Inter Sylvas Accademi quarere Verum.13
Hence his followers got the name of Accademics. The Philosophy which he taught was a compound of the Socratic & Pythagoric Doctrines, & was chiefly divided into these three parts: Ethics, Physics & Dialectics. The knowledge of the platonic Philosophy is to be got from the works of its Author, which are justly held in the greatest esteem. He wrote in the way of Dialogues, in which Socrates makes one of the principal speakers, & generally confutes the bombast or subtle sophists by the depths of his Socratic reasoning, joined with an exquisite strain of raillery. His Books (De republica & Legibus) of the Commonwealth & the Laws, show him to have been an able Politician & deep Scholar. The Platonics did (as the Pythagoreans) apply more to the contemplation of Ratios & abstract proportions than of matter & its properties. We have a sketch of Plato’s Philosophy in his Timaeus. He assigned geometrical figures to the Elements, & compounds & places them geometrically. He makes three principles of all things, the (Νους) Deity, (Χυλη) Matter, & his (Ιδεα) Idea or exemplary cause, or rather his proportion & ideas. Many traces of the old learning & the Ancient world are to be found in his Timaeus, his Politicus & Phaedo, which he brought from Egypt & the pillar of Hermes. His genius in Theology & morality was by the ancients esteemed divine.
20. Arcesilaus one of the successors of Plato about the time of the 107th Olympiad 〈352 b.c.〉 founded the Middle Accademy. His way was to doubt of every thing in arguing for and against all manner of questions. He went a great deal farther than Socrates in Sceptical Philosophy, & said that he could not be certain even of this, that he knew nothing. Carneades did afterwards soften this Scepticism a little by allowing that there was no truth which did not admit of some belief, yet there were such degrees of probability as were sufficient to determine men. This was the new or third Accademy. Carneades was sent from Athens in company with Diogenes the Cynic & Critolaus the peripatetic on an Embassy to Rome about the 599th year after the building of the City. He & the other two taught in different places of the City, & were resorted to by the Roman Youth, who drank in their Philosophy with the utmost avidity, which made Old Cato the Censor move in the Senate to dispatch them as soon as possible, lest the Roman Youth who he said were grown enthusiastically mad after Greecian Arts & learning should be diverted from a military Life to the study of Philosophy.
21. Aristotle the most famous of Plato’s Scholars was born at Stagiola,14 a City of Thrace in the first year of the 99th Olympiad 〈384 b.c.〉. When he was 17 years of Age he came to Athens, where he soon distinguished himself & became a favourite disciple of Plato. In the 4th year of the 109th Olympiad 〈341 b.c.〉 at the request of King Philip he went into Macedonia and became Tutor to Alexander the great, not only in Ethics & Politics but in all the other Sciences. In the first year of the 111th Olympiad 〈336 b.c.〉 Philip dyd & Aristotle returned to Athens where he taught in the Lycaeum, (a place in the suburbs built by Pericles for exercising the Citizens in) walking up & down therein. Hence he & his schollars got the name of Peripatetics (or Walkers). He was the first who reduced the scattered precepts of Philosophy into a System & left Treatises wrote professedly on Logic, Metaphysics, Ethics & Physics. All which shew a Judgment & accuteness of penetration superior to most men. He wrote on Rhetoric, Poetry & natural History & other Subjects. In the two former treatises he discovers a great insight in the human nature & large acquaintance with fine writing. And indeed he is universally acknowledged to have been a very comprehensive & extraordinary Genius. The grand principle of his Ethics is, that every Virtue consists in the Mean or Middle between two extremes both of which are Vicious.
The Peripatetic principles may be gathered from Aristotle’s writings & are well explained by Cicero in so far as they differ from the Stoical principles. To Aristotle in the peripatetic School succeeded Theophrastus, Strato, Lycon, Aristo, Critolaus, Diodorus &c. The Aristotelians believed the world to be eternal as well as to its form as to its matter; & all the creatures in it begitting & begotten in an infinite series with all its plants & various furniture. Aristotle thought the heavens were of Adamant & the Stars fixed like golden Nails in the roofs of their orbits & these Orbs chained together, & All the whole world rolled about in 24 hours time; that the planets were carried about by contrary motions, that the matter of the heavens is quite different from all other & immutable into any other. He introduced his Substantial forms & specific Qualities to explain the Actions & forces of Bodies. He said that sensation was performed by an intentional species, that Providence descended not below the Moon, that the Soul was the Εντελεχεια, a Cant word that signified nothing; he was uncertain of the immortality of the Soul.
22. Epicurus the author of another Sect named Epicureans was born in the 3d year of the 109th Olympiad 〈341 b.c.〉. He began very early to read Philosophy particularly the writings of Democritus, from whence he chiefly borrowed his Physics. Having purchased a pleasant Garden at Athens, he lived there with his friends & disciples, & taught Philosophy. He ascertained that the world was formed by a fortuitous concourse of Atoms falling & clashing one with another in infinite directions thro’ an immense void, without the interposition of an intelligent principle. Tho’ he allowed the existence of the Gods, yet he said they took no care or concern about the world or its affairs, but lived at a great distance in immortal Peace & in inglorious indolence, & by this means subverted the foundations of all religion which is built upon a sense of our Connection with God & dependance upon him, as the Almighty Maker & Governor of the World. He affirmed that Pleasure was the chief end of all our Actions & the Chief Good, & that Virtue was no farther to be followed than as it produces & tends to pleasure. But they are much mistaken, who think that Epicurus gave himself up to all manner of Debauchery; On the contrary he recommended Temperance & the other Virtues as conducive to true happiness. Yet some of his followers made a very bad use of his Doctrine, indulging themselves in the greatest sensuality, & having no notion of moral happiness. The School in the Garden was continued till the days of Augustus under the successive management of Hermochus, Polystratus, Dyonisius, Basilides &c. Epicurus made Sense the supreme Standard by which we judge of truth, said the Sun was no bigger than a foot & a half, & that the Earth was rooted to an infinite extent downward. We have a large Account of the Epicurean Doctrine in Diogenes Laertius & Cicero & Lucretius Carus an elegant Latin Poet has given us a compleat System of his Philosophy (of which he was a professed Admirer) in his poem (De rerum natura) of the nature of things. Epicurus died in the second year of the 127th Olympiad 〈270 b.c.〉.
23. Zeno, contemporary with Epicurus, founded the Stoical Sect directly opposite to the principles of Epicurus. He was at first Scholar to Crates the Cynic, then to Stilpo the Megaric & afterwards heard Diodorus, Cronus and Polemon. He set up a School in the (ποικαλη σοα)15 Painted Walk at Athens, & thence, his Disciples got the name of Stoics. The most Considerable part of the Stoical Philosophy was their Morality whose fundamental Principles were, That Virtue was the alone good & Vice the only Ill; that pleasure was not good nor pain evil; that the passions were preternatural perturbations entirely to be rooted out; that men were not born for themselves but for their Country & Society, & that the whole of mans duty was to live according to Nature. The (Απαθια or) entire freedom from the passions of human nature was certainly impossible to be attained & perhaps was more than the Stoics meant when they recommended the mastery over our appetites & passions. For they seem to have taken our passions in too limited a sense for mental disorders or such violent impulses & propensities of Soul as are inconsistent with the exercise of reason & destructive of it; & in this sense, no doubt they are carefully to be subdued. But both Zeno & Epicurus seem to have erred in not considering the whole of Mans Nature; For Epicurus viewed him only as a sensible Being capable of pleasure & pain; whereas Zeno regarded only the moral part of his Constitution. The peripatetic Philosophers seem to have had juster notions of the matter when they considered Man as a Creature formed for the enjoyment both of Natural & moral good, that is, As a Sensible & Moral Being; & said that the passions were implanted in his nature for valuable purposes, & therefore were not to be extirpated but governed by his Reason. The Stoicks imagined the World (or το παν) to be an Animal whereof God was the soul. They maintained a Fate or Destiny to which Gods & men were equally subjected. They cultivated Dialecticks, but made little progress in Physics. In short they were a natural Shoute 〈shoot〉 from the Cynics, only they refined upon & carried their Philosophy to a higher pitch. To Zeno in the Stoical School succeeded Cleanthus, Chrysippus, Diogenes, Antipater, Panatius & Posidonius.
24. Among the Old Greek Philosophers of note were Parmenides, Leusippus, Democritus & Heraclitus, who all, especially the two last, improved the corpuscular Physics which Epicurus perfected. Pyrrho, contemporary with Aristotle, having read the books of Democritus & having heard various Philosophers, gave rise to another Sect called Sceptics, Pyrronistics and sometimes Zetetics. They held nothing certain, doubting every thing, & said nothing was to be understood or comprehended. As Absurd as these principles were Pyrrho had his admirers & followers, such were Simon,16 Hecataeus, Eurylochus & Sextus Empyricus; nay we find still that he has likewise his Admirers in Modern times who carry his Philosophy to as extravagant a Pitch as the evil of man can devise or his Fancy wish.
25. Among this variety of different Sects of Philosophers it is reasonable to believe their several Systems were neither wholly true nor wholly false. Polemo of Alexandria did therefore in the reign of Augustus introduce the Eclektic Philosophy. They who embraced this method espoused none of the Systems in the Gross but took such doctrines from each as seemed most reasonable, every man judging for himself, & allowing the same liberty to others.
Having now pointed out the principal Stages & periods of Philosophy among the Greecians, it remains just to touch at the Barbarian Philosophy & its Origen. The opinions of those whom the Greeks entitled Barbarians were delivered mostly without proof or reasoning & received because of the Authority of the Teacher, or the reasons are too weak & insufficient to convince. We have an instance of this in the Conflagration of the world, whose Causes & process they neither explain, nor attempted to prove its truth. The same thing may be said with regard to the periods of the World, the pre-existence & revolution of Souls. The Ancient Philosophy never laboured about Theories or the demonstration of things from their Causes or Effects, which the modern has attempted not without Success; But theirs was short & easy by way of Questions & Answers, so that it plainly appears to have been propagated by Tradition. Some derive it from the Hebrews, from Moses & Abraham; But the former himself was a Disciple of the Egyptians so that the Egyptian learning was before him. And as to the Arabian, Job who was a renowned & learned Arabian, is reckoned elder than Moses for several reasons, 1st Because that pious Man counteracted the law of Moses in offering Sacrifices for himself, after the examples of Noah & others before the Law. 2d Because there is no mention made of Moses or his exploits in his Book. 3d From the measure of his life which ought to be placed about the third age after the Deluge, for he lived about 200 years. Besides his history seems to savour of great Antiquity. He Mentions the first kind of Idolatry, that of the Sun & Moon. He speaks of Sculpture the most ancient kind of writing, when he talks of recording his Calamities; His wealth is counted by his Flocks; he mentions no Sabbath or instituted Law, & followed the precepts of Noah. Josephus derives learning from Abraham, but without proof from Sacred or prophane History. Besides ’tis improbable that he shoude instruct the Egyptians in the space of the two years he lived among them. Therefore it is more probable that the Sciences derived their Origin from a higher Source, even Noah, the common parent of the Jews & Nations. He is said to have delivered moral precepts to his descendants, called the precepts of the Noachides, & therefore why not Opinions & Doctrines also? In short it is highly probable that he knew the greatest part of the wisdom of the long lived Antidiluvian Patriarchs since he had 600 years commerce with them, & Consequently that from him as from the fountain head were derived those streams of ancient learning which flowed through the Old world, of which only some small drops have descended to us.
26. There is a Contest betwixt the Egyptians & Hebrews about their precedency & antiquity in learning. That none of the Philosophers travelled among the latter to gather knowledge is a plain evidence that they were not renowned for Letters. We do not read that they excelled in natural or mathematical knowledge, tho Solomon certainly was an eminent Naturalist. Their Schools were formed for Religion & Prophecy rather than for the Sciences. No nation did ever abound so much in prophets & inspired men. So that a divine virtue seems to have been peculiar to their Soil & Climate. They pretended to have preserved among them from the beginning a Cabala or secret Science containing the mysteries of the natural & invisible world; But two things are wanting in this Science, first the establishing & aggreeing upon certain common principles, Secondly, their ascertaining the Use & Signification of words. And indeed this boasted Science of theirs seems to have been a mysterious Gibberish or an obscure Phraseology rather than the knowledge of things. As to their four worlds of Emanation, Creation, Formation & Fabrication, we know little of them, & their explications of them are themselves inexplicable. Their ancient Cabbala might have some foundation, however deformed & vitiated by the moderns, & perhaps treated of the Origin & Gradations of things, or the scale of beings; But being traditionary it came soon to be lost & so the modern Doctors or Rabbies in order to fill up this Void, & to maintain an imaginary Character of ancient Learning threw in their multiplied fictions till at length it grew up or swelled into the enormous size of the present Cabbala. The Cabbalists thought that Gods or their Ensoph contained all things within himself at first, & only evolved or unfolded himself when the World was made, & that it perishes again by its reflux or resolution into the Divinity. (The opinion of the Stoicks was too gross, for they restricted every thing to matter, & understood by Jupiter the Simple Ether, into which they thought the whole world would be finally resolved, & then after a state of time would reassume its primitive form & appearance.) The Essenes an ancient Sect among the Jews resembled the Brachmans in their manners & studies; their Life was most simple & primitive & they applied themselves to the study of the divine nature & the Origin of things.
27. ’Tis thought by Sir Isaac Newton17 that learning flourished early in Arabia or at least in Idumaea a Country of it. Learning flourished there from the time of Job to the Age of Solomon if the Queen of Sheba was of Arabia, as is highly probable. Job was a renowned Sage among the Arabs, & had a great knowledge of nature as is evident from his book which is the first & Oldest monument of Arabic wisdom. In it are many Arabisms to be found. ’Tis probable the Magi or Wise men of the East who came to adore our Saviour at his birth were of Arabia, because the presents they brought were only of an Arabian growth, & because the East is commonly used in Scripture to signify Arabia. The Zabii or Zabaisti18 (the same with the Sabaeans & their Priests) were famous among the Arabians, & were a very ancient nation: The Jews say that Abraham was educated in their Religion at first, but that after he worshipped the true God he left them & inveighed against their Doctrines. Maimonides will have Moses to have chiefly regarded their Rites & manners in forming his Laws. Their Magi were of long Continuance & vaunt themselves to be Noachides or followers of Noah, however they worship the Sun, Moon & Native Genii or Daemones. Job seems to allude hereto when he vindicates himself from the worship of the Sun & Moon, Chap 31. Vers 26. 27. He & his friends were genuine Noachides; but the Zabians & other Arabs were degenerate ones. Both sorts however retain some of the Doctrines of the Noachides which were the Roots of Oriental learning. Pythagoras & Democritus visited them. We have little account of them for the first Ages after Christ, till in the Sixth Century with the rise of Ishmaelism or the Law of Mahomet learning began also to revive among them. For the Arabians or the Sarracens penetrating into the West & making Conquests in Europe with their Arms raised a new Empire to themselves, & by degrees imbibed the Greecian & European Philosophy. As the Aristotelian or Peripatetick Philosophy prevailed chiefly at that time, they embraced it, & propagated it afterwards with great industry & noise. Their learned men, particularly Avicenna & Averroes19 translated the works of Aristotle & gathered all the Greecian Authors they could find, insomuch that they alone seemed to possess them. As to the Sarracens at the taking of Alexandria, the great & celebrated Library, that vast collection of Ancient learning which had been collected by the Kings of Egypt for many Ages, was, by their barbarous & brutal Emperour at the instigation of his Chief Priest, ordered to be burned, & used as fewel to warm the hot baths. After the times of Mahomet the Arabian learning degenerated into Fable & Allegory.
28. When the Romans extended their Empire over Greece they became acquainted with the learning & Philosophy of that Country. They had indeed got some taste of Greecian workmanship & politeness before, by the taking of Syracuse, which was originally a Greecian City, & therefore Old Cato complains that hostile statues had been introduced into the Town from Syracuse. But those Greecian pieces of Virtuosoship were rather laid up as rarities to be gazed at, or as piles to adorn their Temples. But the Greecian learning & politic Arts scarce made any Advances till the Thousand Achaian Exiles arrived at Rome & were dispersed up & down the Country.20 They scattered the first seeds of Philosophy in that Soil which had been formerly possessed by Arms & overrun with the din of War. That Soil however being strong & fertile did, by a happy Culture & greater intercourse with Greecian Wits, bring forth a rich crop of Philosophers, Historians, Poets & Orators. As Philosophers of all Sects began to teach there, the young Romans commenced Partizans of this or the other Sect as best suited their taste & Genius. So that Among the Romans we find the learned Men widely differing in their Philosophy. Cicero the Orator, who contributed more than any other to make his countrymen acquainted with the Greek Philosophy, as is evident from his Philosophical works, was a New Academic, & in some things an Eclectic. Cato of Utica & Brutus who killed Caesar were Stoics; Lucullus was an Old Academic; Atticus & Velleius were Epicureans; Seneca the praeceptor of Nero was a strict Stoic, as was also the famous philosophical Emperor Marcus Antoninus, who was both the highest pattern of virtue & the greatest Master as well as Patron of learning. This was the state of Philosophy at Rome till the decline of the Empire when barbarity & ignorance overwhelmed the Remains of Ancient learning, & brought on a night of total and almost universal Darkness.
29. The Platonists became famous in the 3d & 4th Centuries among whom were Plotinus, Porphyrius, Iamblichus & Proclus, who spent all their time in explaining & writing Mystical & Jejune Commentaries upon the tenets of the founders of the Sect. Untill the 6th Century Aristotle was but little known in the Western World, when Boethius translated some of his writings. The Arabians, whom we have already mentioned, in the Eleventh Century introduced his Philosophy into Spain, & from thence sprung the Scholastic Peripatetic Philosophers, who overlooked & in a great measure neglected his most beautiful & usefull works, viz. his Morals, his Politics & Rhetoric & spent all their time & pains in writing huge Commentaries upon his Dialectics or Logics & Physical Works the most lame of all his performances which they employed to furnish out materials for endless debate & to support an unintelligible & monstrous System of Theology.
30. After the fall of the Roman Empire & the irruption of the Barbarous northern nations all Europe continued for many years buried in great ignorance. The small remains of knowledge that were to be found were confined to the Cells of the Monks & other Clergy. In the 8th Century the highest ambition of the Clergy was to Vie with one another in chanting the public service, which yet they hardly understood. The Emperor Charlemagne tho’ a warlick Monarch allowed a public School to be opened in the imperial palace under the direction of our famous Country man Alcuine,21 on whom he chiefly relied for introducing into France some tincture of that Philosophy which was still remaining in Brittain. As to Brittain, tho’ Learning had still some footing there in the Eighth Century, it was so totally exterminated from thence in the ninth that throughout the whole kingdom of the west Saxons no man could be found who was Scholar enough to instruct King Alfred, then a Child, in the first Elements of Reading, so that he was in his 12th year before he could name the letters of the Alphabet. When that renowned Prince mounted the Throne22 he became the great restorer of Arts in his Dominions, & gave all encouragement to learned Men.
But these fair Appearances were soon Succeeded by a night of thicker Darkness which quickly overspread the intellectual world. To Common Sense & piety succeeded Dreams & Fables, visionary Legends & ridiculous pennances. The Clergy, now utter Strangers to all good learning, instead of guiding a rude & vitious Laity by the precepts of the Gospel which they no longer read, amused them with forged Miracles, or overawed them with the Ghostly terrors of Daemons, Spectres & Chimaeras. The See of Rome which should have been a pattern to the rest, was of all Christian Churches the most licentious; & the pontifical Chair often filled with men who, instead of adorning their sacred Character, made human nature itself detestable. It was not till late after the Sack of Constantinople by the Turks in the year 1453 that the writings of Aristotle began again to be universally known & studied. They were then brought away & dispersed through the West part of Europe by certain fugitive Greeks who had escaped the fury of the Ottoman Arms. The latin translations of his Books gave birth as we have said to the Scholastic Philosophy, which was neither that of Aristotle entirely nor altogether differing from his. They left natural knowledge wholly incultivated to hunt after Occult Qualities, Abstract Notions & Questions of impertinent Curiosity: By which they rendered the Logic their labours turned upon, intricate, useless & unintelligible.
31. The Scholastics were divided into two Sorts or Sects, the Nominalists, who owed their Rise to Rucelinus23 an Englishman; the other was called the Sect of the Realists, who had Duns Scotus24 for their Champion. The titles with which these scholastic Leaders were honoured by their followers on account of the sublime Reveries they taught are at once magnificent & absurd: such as the profound, the Subtile, the Marvellous, the indefatigable, the irrefragable, the Angelic, the Seraphic &c. But these titles prove rather the superlative ignorance of those times than any transcendent merit in the man to whom they were applied. Friar Bacon25 however was a great Philosopher even in these ignorant times, & made many new discoveries in Astronomy & perspective, in Mechanics & Chymistry: The Construction of Spectacles, of Telescopes, of all sort of Glasses that either magnify or diminish objects, the Composition of Gun powder (Which Bartholinus Swartz is thought to have first hit upon almost a Century later) are some of the many inventions ascribed to him. For all which he was in his lifetime Calumniated, imprisoned & opprest & after his Death called a Magician who dealt in the Black or informal Arts.
The writings of Aristotle 〈during the medieval period〉 were both reckoned the fountains of all knowledge & afforded materials for infinite Debate & mutual Animosities. Sometimes they were proscribed as Heretical, & sometimes they were triumphant & acknowledged the great Bulwark of Orthodoxy. In the 16th Century they were not only read with impunity but every where taught with applause; & whoever disputed their Orthodoxy—I had almost said their infallibility—was persecuted as an Infidel & Miscreant. After the Scholastic Philosophy had been adopted into the Christian Theology, far from being of use to explain & ascertain Mysteries it served only to darken & render doubtful the most necessary truths by the Chicanery of Argumentation with which it supplied each Sect in defence of their peculiar and favourite illusions.
32. When knowledge began to dawn & the reformation diffused a new light over Europe, Universities were founded, and Professors were appointed to teach the several Sciences. Nevertheless all Ranks & parties blindly following the Aristotelian Philosophy then in fashion, they made no new advances in Learning, but contented themselves with explaining & defending the Systems of the times; Protestants as well as Papists intrenching themselves behind the Authority of Aristotle, & defending their several tenets by the Weapons with which he furnished them. This unnatural Alliance between Theology & the Peripatetic Doctrine rendered the Opinions of Aristotle sacred so that to dispute them was to pull up & remove the land marks of Faith & Orthodoxy: So that any one who attempted to remove the Awful Veil of Obscurity with which the face of nature was covered, & to strick out new lights in Science, run the hazard of Church Censure, which commonly ended in Tortures & Death. The great end of Philosophy, which is to make men wiser & better, was wholly neglected, & ones reputation as a learned Man depended upon his being able to maintain a dispute right or wrong, with a Variety of subtile sophistical Arguments. If the Disputant happened to bear hard on the System he was immediately & infallibly refuted with a metaphysical distinction, or with the Authority of Aristotle or some of the Scholastic Doctors. All this while the nature & relations of things were not observed, Philosophy then consisting not of Observations made on the Laws of Motions & properties of Bodies, but of a set of Opinions borrowed at Second hand & received without examination. If any one set about explaining the Phaenomena of nature by second Causes or the powers of Matter & Mechanism, he was immediately supposed to have removed the First Cause, or the All sustaining & all governing Providence, & consequently was condemned as an Atheist; As if it had been less honourable to the Supreme Artist to have the Symmetry & perfect Mechanism of his works thoroughly Understood than to have all the operations of nature in which He is the prime mover resolved into Occult Qualities, substantial & (I know not what) mysterious nothings. Happy is it for us that we live in an age, when people are allowed to see with their own Eyes, when the Authority of fallible men bear no weight in Philosophy & when we are directed to realities as the sole object of true knowledge.
33. Such were the dispositions of men & things when Sir Francis Bacon,26 Lord Verulam & Chancellor of England in the reign of James the Sixth, appeared upon the Stage. He was the first who saw thro’ the Cloud in which Philosophy had for many ages been wrapped up. His vast & penetrating mind soon discovered the Absurdity & fruitless insignificancy of the Philosophy then in fashion, & the impossibility of ever arriving at true knowledge in the beaten tract of Disputation & of composing Theories & Systems without a proper induction of Facts; And therefore he laboured all he could to open again, (as he expresses it) the Commerce between the Mind & things, which had been for so long time interrupted. He understood well that the Business of Philosophy was not to support Systems, but to observe & explain Nature; & thence in two words he gave a more clear & satisfying Account of Philosophy than others had done in hundreds of Volumes calling it (Interpretatio Natura) The Interpreter of Nature.
My Lord’s extensive Genius led him to peruse the registers of learning in all Ages, & to consider the state of all the Sciences, their Origin, the progress & advances they had made & the things in which they were still defective. This put him upon composing that extraordinary work (De dignitate & Augmentis Scientiarum) Of the dignity & improvement of the Sciences, in which he shews us a Map of the intellectual world, what regions of it have been already discovered & cultivated, what parts remain still Terra incognita (or unknown) by what means, & with what instruments these are to be explored & consequently the great (desiderata or) blank of Science supplied & filled up; A Book which must be admired and valued, while there remains any taste for true Learning among the sons of Men. In his Book called his Novum Organum he has traced out the proper Road of experience & observation, by which alone we can obtain the true knowledge of things, & consequently a proper dominion over nature. The first Aphorism of this admirable Treatise contains more good Sense & real learning, than all the books that had been wrote on Philosophy for a Dozen of Centuries before him. It is this; “Homo, Naturae minister et interpres, tantum facil et intelligit quantum de Natura ordine, re vel mente observaverit, nec amplius scit au potest.” Literally thus, “Man, the minister & interpreter of nature can act & understand just in proportion to his experience & observation of the order of nature nor can he know or do any thing further.” Here the foundation both of our knowledge & power is laid in the observation of things & their mutual connexions.
Lord Verulam is not to be considered so much the founder of a new Sect as the great Assertor of human Liberty; As one who rescued Reason & Truth from the Slavery in which all Sects alike had till then held them. He was not however the first among the Moderns who ventured to dissent from Aristotle; Ramus Patricius, Bruno, Severinus27 had already attacked the Authority of that Tyrant in learning, who had long reigned as absolutely over the opinions, as his restless Pupil had of old affected to do over the persons of men; But these Writers being of the Scholastic Tribe, invented but little that was valuable themselves. And as to the real improvements made in some parts of natural knowledge before this great man appeared by Gilbert, Harvy, Copernicus, Father Paul28 & some few others, they are well known, & have been deservedly Celebrated.
We shall afterwards have an Occasion frequently to mention some other Aphorisms of this great but unhappy man, whose writings richly deserve the perusal of all such as wish to be instructed by what they read, & to know things & not words.
34. Towards the end of the 16th Century Renates de Cartes29 was the Author of a new Sect of Philosophers called Cartesians; He said that in order to find out truth we must first doubt of every thing but our own existence. Accordingly (Cogito ergo Sum) I think, therefore I am, was the only first principle or self evident truth according to his System. He maintained the Doctrine of innate Ideas & established the proof of the existence of God on the Idea of a perfect Being, which he said was natural to the human mind: alledging it was presumptuous for man to attempt to discover final causes in the works of God. Brutes, according to him, were (mera Automata or) pieces of machinery & clock work; & by the motion of their animal Spirits he solved all their actions. His physics were meerly Chimerical, not being founded on experiments, but upon Data or principles which he took for granted; Yet he was no mean Mathematician; & had he applied his geometrical knowledge to facts & the phaenomena of nature, he might have considerably improved Philosophy. The Cartesian Philosophy was for some time taught in a great many Universities, & it was heresy in Religion, as well as Philosophy, to Doubt any of his Doctrines; But his Philosophy is now quite out of fashion, & has been justly exploded by a more genuin & august Philosophy introduced & cultivated by Sir Isaac Newton, & other great Philosophers, who following the plan traced out to them by Lord Bacon have erected a noble structure of Science beautiful in itself & highly beneficial to mankind.
35. The reformation & the gradual progress of liberty especially in Great Brittain tended considerably to the improvement of the Arts & Sciences; & the great plan of Science which Ld Bacon had projected put men upon a more genuine & successful method of enquiry. Accordingly a whole train of Philosophers & enquirers into nature arose up from time to time, who following the tract pointed out to them by the aforesaid great man built up different parts of the great pile of science. In the year 1663 Charles the 2d King of England erected, soon after the Restauration, the Royal Society for promoting all kinds of natural knowledge: Their Charter bears date the 22d of April of that year. A little after that in the year 1666, Lewis the 14th King of France, did, by means of the famous Mr. Colbert our Countryman, establish the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, & provided Salaries for some of the members of it. In imitation of these the Emperor Leopol30 did also found his (Accademia Natura Curiosorum or) Accademy of the curiosities of nature & the King of Prussia, one of the same kind at Berlin. And the late Czar of Muscovy Peter Alexowitz commonly & very justly called the great, who excelled all other Princes in his endeavours to improve his own Country, to instruct & polish a rude & barbarous people by Arts, Sciences & Trade, erected a Society for natural Philosophy in his new built City Petersburgh, by the name of Accademia Petropolitana. These Societies have contributed not a little to the advancement of natural knowledge, that being the professed design of their institution.
Accordingly the last age & this have produced a great many particular men who have enriched all the Branches of Philosophy with noble discoveries. It may perhaps look like partiality in favour of our own Country to say that Brittain may boast of the greatest Philosophers in every kind of Science that ever appeared in the world. It were endless to name them all, Let it suffice to say that some of those who shone in the foremost Rank & made the most distinguishing figure were, The honourable Mr Robt. Boyl31 that eminent Ornament in the learned World remarkable no less for his singular Piety, than for his extensive Learning & indefatigable application to the several branches of Natural knowledge; Mr. Wallis32 who improved the Doctrine of motion in all its parts so as to render it a compleat Science; But above all Sir Isaac Newton that great name in Philosophy who carried it to a higher pitch of perfection than any had done before him. We may add to these Dr. Gregory33 that celebrated Civilian professor of Astronomy at Oxford, Mr. James Gregory34 of St. Andrews, Dr. Halley,35 the famous brothers The Keils, John & James,36 Mr. Derham37 who wrote those ingenious pieces, the physics & Astrotheology, Hawksby,38 Desaguliers,39 to name no more, that excellent Experimentor Mr. Hailes40 the Author of the vegetable Statics. There were other noble Philosophers who have shone in different parts of Philosophy, viz. Mr. Lock41 the celebrated Author of the Essay on the human Understanding, who contributed more than any other to banish from the schools that unintelligible Jargon, those insignificant Subtilties & perplext Logomachies which had prevailed hitherto, & who gave us a simple but elegant history of the progress & operation of the human Mind; Cumberland42 who gave us a beautiful detail of the laws of nature in the moral world. Dr. Samuel Clark43 & many others whom it would be endless to name.
36. It may appear a Difficulty to account for the prodigious Variety of Sentiments & Sects among Philosophers, seeing Truth is one unvariable thing. But in order to explain this appearance, we need only consider, that to the Attainment of every End, certain means are to be applied, & that if the means be either not used at all or misapplied, success can never be expected. Now there is a natural & proper method of attaining to true knowledge as well as any other accomplishment, which if neglected must occasion error & contradiction. It cannot be too often repeated,
that there is no real knowledge, nor any that can answer a valuable End, but what is gathered or Copyed from nature or from things themselves.
That the knowledge of Nature is nothing else than the knowledge of facts or realities & their established connections. That no Rules or Precepts of life Can be given or any Scheme of Conduct prescribed, but what must suppose a settled Course of things conducted in a regular uniform manner.
That in order to denominate those Rules just, & to render those Schemes successful, the Course of things must be understood & observed.
& that all Philosophy, even the most didactic & practical parts of it, must be drawn from the Observation of things or at least resolved into it; Or which is the same thing, that the knowledge of truth is the knowledge of Fact, & whatever Speculations are not reduceable to the one or the other of these are Chimerical, Vague & uncertain.
We may therefore ascribe the various errors of Philosophers either to the Ambition they had of becoming the founders of Sects, or the Authors of Systems, Or to a prevailing Opinion that Philosophy was good for nothing if it left any thing in the Dark; which mistake would lead people to proceed farther than they were warranted by Observation & experience; Or their mistakes may be owing to the fixing too much upon one part of Nature considered as detached from the rest, taking a particular View of one kind of Objects & Strenuously asserting them to be none other than they represented them. Whereas the true Philosopher who has got a view of the Vast extent of things, & is conscious within how narrow a Circle the faculties of the human mind are confined, & how little the wisest of Men can fully comprehend in the works of nature, will be far from entertaining high notions of the Extent or infallibility of his knowledge, but will proceed cautiously in his enquiries, & having an Attachment to truth alone, without regard to Sect or parties, & their Systems, will embrace truth wherever he finds it, how opposite so ever to his former prepossessions or his future interests.
37. From what has been already advanced in the progress of this short sketch, it appears that Philosophy is a very extensive thing, comprehending all knowledge of whatever kind. But according to the common acceptation of the words it extends only to those Branches of knowledge which are called the Sciences; such are Logic, Metaphysics, Pneumatics, Ethics & Physics. Logic is that Science, which from the observation of the nature of the Understanding & the other speculative powers of the mind, & the Laws of our Perception, & the origin of our knowledge directs us in our enquiries after truth. Metaphysics explains the general properties & relations of all Beings whatsoever, or of things as they have existence; & therefore it may be considered as an introduction to the other Sciences, explaining those general principles which are common to all. Pneumatic or Pneumatology considers the nature & properties of thinking Beings or Spirits, & under this head is comprehended natural Theology. Ethics Enquires into the active & moral part of mans constitution & thence deduces the Rule of Life & Conduct, & explains the several offices or Duties to which he is obliged by the Laws of Nature; To this Head likewise belongs the science of Politics, which treats of the nature of Society, of the foundation of Government & of the reciprocal duties of Governors & Subjects. Physics comprehends all the knowledge we have of material things, & is branched out into Mechanics, or the doctrine of Motion, Hydrostatics, or the Nature & Laws of Fluids; Pneumatics, which treats of the properties of the Air; Optics, which considers vision, light or Colours; Astronomy or the knowledge of the motions & Laws of the heavenly Bodies; Anatomy, or the knowledge of the structure of organized Bodies; & in a word, to this head are reduced all the Sciences that relate in any respect to material things. Mathematics whose Object is Quantity make likewise a part of Philosophy.
This is a general View of the Sciences, their Origin, Progress & several Revolutions, By whom they were chiefly cultivated & to what pitch they are now arrived. They are all referable to one great & universal source, the System or Whole of things originally made & subjected to the government of the most simple, most perfect & most glorious of all beings, the God & Father of all, who is the original Fountain of all knowledge as well as of every other perfection, to whom we are to apply for that Light & wisdom which will conduct us in all our enquiries & crown all our Studies with Success.
The several parts of these different Sciences will afford ample matter for our future Course of Philosophical Exercises.
A Few advices of the late Mr Da. Fordyce to his Scholars at the end of the Session Concerning Reading
Remember that the end of all reading & learning is, To be Wise, good & useful Creatures.
That no man can be a good Creature who is not Religious, or a lover of God, as well as a friend to men.
In all your reading search for truth & seek knowledge, not for shew or mere talk, but for use; the improvement of your own mind, & the advantage of Others.
Be concerned not to read much but to understand & digest well what you read: And do not think you understand unless you have clear & distinct Ideas, & comprehend the coherence & scope of what you read.
Consider nature or the World as the Volume or Book of God in the meanest page of which his perfections are legible; & Consider Books as Copies of one or more leaves of that Stupendous Volume.
Γνωθι σεαυτον (i.e. Know thyself) Remember this as the most useful maxim of wisdom, without which knowledge will breed Vanity, & learning become matter of Ostentation only.
After Reading Ask yourself what you have learned from it, & often revise what you have Read.
Seek rather to be master of one good Book than to glance over a Score in a Cursory manner. Timeo hominem unius Libri. 〈I fear men who know a single book.〉
Do not desire to hasten too fast in the pursuit of knowledge; Advance slowly, & your progress will be sure & lasting.
When you have read much on any subject, set down your own Reflections upon it; this will ascertain & range your Ideas & improve your stile.
In reading history, particularly the lives of great men, Study & imitate their most eminent & useful virtues; & examine your own Character & Disposition by observing what you admire most about them.
Remember that without Diligence & the Influence of heaven, no man ever became great or good. Sine afflatu divino, nimo unguam Viz magnus extitit.44
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[*] See Butler’s Sermon on the Love of God. [Sermons 13 and 14 of Butler’s Fifteen Sermons are titled “Upon the Love of God.”]
[*] Vid. Book I. Sect. 1, 2, &c.
[*] See Book 2. §. 2.
[†] Vid. Shaftsb. Inq. into Virtue, Book 2. [Anthony Ashley Cooper, third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713), published a corrected version of his An Inquiry Concerning Virtue, or Merit (1699) in 1711 as part of his Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times. A second revised edition appeared in 1714, after his death. In Book 2, section 2, part 1 (paragraph 176) of the Inquiry he observes, “So insinuating are these pleasures of sympathy, and so widely diffused through our whole lives, that there is hardly such a thing as satisfaction or contentment of which they make not an essential part.”]
[*] See Book 1. §. 1. 2.
[*] Vid. the late ingenious Dial. on Happiness by J. H. [James Harris (1709–80) of Salisbury was a nephew of Lord Shaftesbury, a member of Parliament, and an independent scholar best known for his Hermes: or, a Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Language and Universal Grammar (London, 1751). His essay on happiness was published as the third of Three Treatises (London, 1744). The first of the three treatises, “Concerning Art,” was dedicated to his uncle, Lord Shaftesbury. The second treatise addressed music, painting, and poetry.]
[*] See Temple’s Miscell. Part 1. Treat. 6. [Sir William Temple (1608–99) was an English diplomat and author. In the final essay of part one of his Miscellanea, 4th ed. (London, 1704–5), “An essay upon the cure of the gout by moxa,” he discusses the contribution of temperance to good health.]
[*] Sect. 4. Book II.
[†] Vid. Whichcot’s Serm. Part II. Serm. VI. [The English divine Benjamin Whichcote (1609–83) spent most of his career in Cambridge, first as a Sunday lecturer at Trinity Church and later as Provost of King’s College. Shaftesbury selected twelve of Whichcote’s sermons and, writing an anonymous preface to the sermons, first published them in London in 1698 as Select Sermons of Dr. Whichcote. This book was later published in Edinburgh (1742) with a message to young ministers and divinity students from William Wishart, principal of Edinburgh University. See Select Sermons of Dr. Whichcote, In Two Parts, 281.]
[*] Vid. Ludov. Viv. de Rel. Christ. Lib. II. de Vita Uteri, &c. [The reference is to the Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives (1492–1540), friend and correspondent of Erasmus and Thomas More, whose unfinished apologia for Christianity De veritae fidei Christianae was published in 1543. In book 1, chapter 7, “De vita uteri, et de hac nostra, et altera,” Vives compares the passage from the womb to life outside the womb to the passage from death into life after death. See Ioannis Ludovici Valentini Opera Omnia (Valencia: Montfort, 1782–90; reprint London: Gregg Press, 1964), vol. 8, 51–53.]
[*] See Butler’s Analogy, Part I. [Bishop Joseph Butler’s The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature was published in London in 1736. Part 1 is an examination of natural religion. In chapter 5 of part 1, “Of a State of Probation, as Intended for Moral Discipline and Improvement,” Butler discusses natural moral development.]
[*] Vid. Relig. of Nat. §. 9. [Wollaston, The Religion of Nature Delineated, section 9, “Truths belonging to a Private Man, and respecting (directly) only himself.”]
[1.]See note 3 to The Elements.
[2.]Hermes Trismegistus, “the thrice great Hermes,” is the name given to the Egyptian god Thoth, alleged author of works on alchemy, astrology, and magic.
[3.]Diodorus Siculus was a first century b.c. Greek historian whose history of the world is a major source for these lectures.
[4.]Scholars dispute the existence of Sanchuniathon, whose writing on ancient Phoenicia Philo of Byblos claims to have drawn upon in his Phoenician History.
[5.]Hesiod, c. eighth century b.c., provides an account of the origin of the world and the genealogy of the gods in his Theogony.
[6.]Diogenes Laertius, a Greek historian of philosophy of the early third century a.d., is the author of Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Plutarch (a.d. c. 50–c. 125) writes of the lives and characters of the Greek philosophers in Parallel Lives.
[7.]Anaximander of Miletus (c. 610–c. 547 b.c.) is credited with inventing the “gnomon,” or upright pointer of the sundial to track hours and seasons.
[8.]Aristophanes (c. 448–380 b.c.) ridicules Socrates in The Clouds.
[9.]Laertius identifies Gryllus as the father of Xenophon.
[10.]Cebes’ The Picture of Human Life was highly esteemed in the eighteenth century for its moral teaching. Robert Dodsley included a translation of The Picture at the conclusion of The Preceptor.
[11.]Horace, Epistulae, bk. 1, ep. 1, line 107: “Free, honored, morally excellent, King, at last, of kings.”
[12.]στοιχεια, although σοιχεια appears in the text.
[13.]Horace Epistulae, bk. 2, ep. 2, line 45: “In the woods of Accademus we seek truth.”
[14.]Stagira, although Stagiola appears in the text.
[15.]ποικιλη στοα, although ποικαλησοα appears in the text.
[16.]Timon, although Simon appears in the text.
[17.]See Sir Isaac Newton, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended, to which is Prefix’d, A Short Chronicle from the First Memory of Things in Europe, to the Conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great (London, 1728).
[18.]In general, this passage follows Moses Maimonides’ The Guide of the Perplexed, part 3, chapter 29. Maimonides refers to the Sabians, a reference Shlomo Pines takes to apply generally to pagans. (See The Guide of the Perplexed, translated and with an introduction and notes by Shlomo Pines [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963], 514.) It is more probable that both Maimonides and Fordyce are, like Job, referring to the ancient people of Sheba.
[19.]Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (980–1037) and Averroes (Ibn Rushd) (1126–98) were the two most important Islamic philosophers of the medieval period, the former a Neoplatonist, the latter an Aristotelian intent upon correcting the Neoplatonic readings of Aristotle, such as those of Avicenna.
[20.]Sicily was made a province of Rome in the first Punic war, 264–241 b.c. Under suspicion of treachery, Achaeans were resettled in Italy in 168 b.c.
[21.]Alcuin/Alcuine (c. 735–804), born near York, England, was an eminent theologian and scholar who, as abbot of St. Martin’s at Tours, developed a model monastic school.
[22.]Alfred the Great (849–99) ruled over Wessex 871–99.
[23.]Roscelin/Roscellinus Compendiensis/Ruscelinus (1050–1125) denied the existence of universals, arguing that items denominated by the same term share no deeper metaphysical reality than their name.
[24.]John Duns Scotus (John Duns, the Scot) (c. 1266–1308) was a Franciscan philosopher and theologian who, as a realist, maintained that things denominated by the same term share some metaphysical property or relation.
[25.]Roger Bacon (1214–92), an English philosopher and a Franciscan, was known as Doctor Mirabilis, i.e., marvelous doctor.
[26.]Francis Bacon (1561–1626) was an English statesman, philosopher, and educational reformer.
[27.]Ramus Patricius, or Peter Ramus (1515–72), was professor of philosophy at the University of Paris, a critic of Aristotle, and a university reformer. Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) was an Italian philosopher of nature and a Neoplatonist. Petrus Severinus (1542–1602) was a Danish physician and follower of Paracelsus.
[28.]William Gilbert (1544–1603) was an English scientist and physician noted for his studies of magnetism and electricity. William Harvey (1578–1657), an English physician, is credited with the earliest explanation of the circulation of blood. The Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus (1473–1543) developed the heliocentric theory of planetary motion. Father Paul (Pietro Sarpi) (1552–1623), a Venetian and a monk, was trained in philosophy, theology, and mathematics. He was a friend and benefactor of Galileo, and is said to have discovered and explained the valves of veins.
[29.]René Descartes (1596–1650), a French mathematician and philosopher, developed his theories in the Discours de la Méthod (Discourse on Method) (1637) and the Meditationes de Prima Philosophia (Meditations on First Philosophy) (1641).
[30.]Leopold I (1640–1705) was king of Hungary (1655–1705) and of Bohemia (1656–1705) and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1658–1705).
[31.]Robert Boyle (1627–92), born in Ireland, was a physicist and chemist and prominent member of the “Royal Society of London, for Improving of Natural Knowledge.”
[32.]John Wallis (1616–1708), an English mathematician, authored Arithmetica Infinitorum (Oxford, 1655).
[33.]David Gregory (1661–1708) was the first professor to lecture publicly on Newtonian philosophy and author of Astronomiae Physicae et Geometricae Elementa (Oxford, 1702).
[34.]James Gregory (1638–75), uncle of David Gregory and author of Optica Promota (1663).
[35.]Edmund Halley (1656–1742) employed Newton’s gravitational theory in order to predict the return of a comet (now known as Halley’s comet). He was elected to the Royal Society at the age of 22 and was appointed astronomer royal in 1720.
[36.]John Keil (1671–1721) and James Keil (1673–1719), native Scots, were, respectively, students of David Gregory and, later, professor of Astronomy at Oxford, and physician and anatomist.
[37.]William Derham (1657–1735) was an Anglican clergyman who wrote on natural history and mechanics. His Physico-Theology (1713) and his Astro-Theology (1715) were the Boyle lectures of 1711–12.
[38.]Francis Hawksbee (d. c. 1713) was a noted British experimentalist and member of the Royal Society.
[39.]John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683–1744) succeeded John Keil as lecturer in experimental philosophy at Oxford.
[40.]Stephen Hales (1677–1761), a physiologist and inventor, was a member of the Royal Society. His Vegetable Staticks was first published in 1727. He was also the author of A Friendly Admonition to Drinkers of Brandy and Other Distilled Spirits (1734).
[41.]John Locke (1632–1704) published his Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1689.
[42.]Richard Cumberland (1631–1718), of Cambridge, was the author of De Legibus Naturae (1672), an attack upon Hobbesian political thought.
[43.]Samuel Clarke (1675–1729) was rector of St. James Church, Westminster, most noted for his Boyle lectures, A Discourse Concerning the Being and Attributes of God (London, 1705), vol. 1, and A Discourse Concerning the Unchangeable Obligations of Natural Religion and the Truth and Certainty of the Christian Revelation (London, 1706), vol. 2.
[44.]In De Natura Deorum, book 2, 167, Cicero writes, “Nemo igitur vir magnus sine aliquo adflatu divino umquam fuit,” or “No great man ever existed who did not enjoy some portion of divine inspiration.”