Imagini ale paginilor


one take

violence to their self, as much breaking in upon their nature, as any external force. Persons of this character would add, if they might be heard, that they consider themselves as acting in the view of an infinite Being, who is in a much higher sense the object of reverence and of love than all the world besides; and, therefore, they could have no more enjoyment from a wicked action done under his eye, than the persons to whom they are making their apology could, if all mankind were the spectators of it; and that the satisfaction of approving themselves to his unerring judgment, to whom they thus refer all their actions, is a more continued settled satisfaction than any this world can afford. And, if we go no further, does there appear any absurdity in this? Will

upon him to say, that a man cannot find his account in this general course of life, as much as in the most unbounded ambition and the excesses of pleasure? Or that such a person has not consulted so well for himself, for the satisfaction and peace of his own mind, as the ambitious or dissolute man? And though the consideration, that God himself will in the end justify their taste, and support their cause, is not formally to be insisted upon here; yet thus much comes in, that all enjoyments whatever are much more clear and unmixed from the assurance that they will end well. Is it certain, then, that there is nothing in these pretensions to happiness? especially when there are not wanting persons, who have supported themselves with satisfactions of this kind in sickness, poverty, disgrace, and in the very pangs of death; whereas, it is manifest, all other enjoyments fail in these circumstances. This surely looks suspicious of having somewhat in it. Self-love methinks should be alarmed. May she not possibly pass over greater pleasures, than those she is so wholly taken up with?

The short of the matter is no more than this—happiness consists in the gratification of certain affections, appetites, passions, with objects which are by nature adapted to them. Self-love may indeed set us on work to gratify these; but happiness or enjoyment has no immediate connection with self-love, but arises from such gratification alone. Love of our neighbour is one of those affections. This, considered as a virtuous principle, is gratified by a consciousness of endeavouring to promote the good of others; but, considered as a natural affection, its gratification consists in the actual accomplishment of this endeavour. Now, indulgence of this affection, whether in that consciousness or this

accomplishment, has the same respect to interest as indulgence of any other affection; they equally proceed from or do not proceed from selflove, they equally include or equally exclude this principle. Thus it appears, that benevolence and the pursuit of public good hath just the same respect to self-love and the pursuit of private good, with all other particular passions and their respective pursuits.

Neither covetousness, whether as a temper or pursuit, any exception to this. For, if by covetousness is meant the desire and pursuit of riches for their own sake, without any regard to or consideration of the use of them, this hath as little to do with self-love as benevolence hath. But by this word is usually meant, not such madness and total distraction of mind, but immoderate affection to and pursuit of riches as possessions in order to some further end, namely, satisfaction, interest, or good. This, therefore, is not a particular affection or particular pursuit, but it is the general principle of self-love and the general pursuit of our own interest; for which reason the word selfish is by every one appropriated to this temper and pursuit. Now, as it is ridiculous to assert that self-love and the love of our neighbour are the same, so neither is it asserted that following these different affections hath the same tendency and respect to our own interest. The comparison is not between self-love and the love of our neighbour, between pursuit of our own interest and the interest of others; but between the several particular affections in human nature towards external objects, as one part of the comparison, and the one particular affection to the good of our neighbour, as the other part of it: and it has been shown, that all these have the same respect to self-love and private interest.

There is, indeed, frequently an inconsistence or interfering between self-love or private interest, and the several particular appetites, passions, affections, or the pursuits they lead to. But this competition or interfering is merely accidental, and happens much oftener between pride, revenge, sensual gratifications, and private interest, than between private interest and benevolence. For nothing is more common than to see men give themselves up to a passion or an affection to their known prejudice and ruin, and in direct contradiction to manifest and real interest and the loudest calls of self-love. But the seeming competitions and interfering between benevolence and private interest relate much more to the materials or means of enjoyment, than to enjoyment itself. There is often an interfering in the former when there is none in the latter. Thus, as to riches: so much money as a man gives away, so much less will remain in his possession. Here is a real interfering. But, though a man cannot possibly give without lessening his fortune, yet there are multitudes might give without lessening their own enjoyment, because they may have more than they can turn to any

real use or advantage to themselves. Thus, the more thought and time any one employs about the interests and good of others, he must necessarily have less to attend his own; but he may have so ready and large a supply of his own wants that such thought might be really useless to himself, though of great service and assistance to others.

The occasion of the general mistake, that there is some greater inconsistence between endeavouring to promote the good of another and self-interest, than between self-interest and pursuing any thing else, is this, which hath been already hinted; that men consider the means and materials of enjoyment, not the enjoyment of them, as what constitutes interest and happiness. It is the possession, having the property of riches, houses, lands, gardens, in which our interest or good is supposed to consist. Now, if riches and happiness are identical terms, it may well be thought, that, as by bestowing riches on another you lessen your own, so also by promoting the happiness of another you lessen your

And thus there would be a real inconsistence and contrariety between private and public good. But, whatever occasioned the mistake, I hope it has been fully proved to be one.

And to all these things may be added, that religion is far from disowning the principle of self-love, that on the contrary it addresseth itself to us in that state of mind when reason presides; and there can no access be had to the understanding, but by convincing men that the course of life we would persuade them to is for their interest. It may be allowed, without any prejudice to the cause of virtue and religion, that our ideas of happiness and misery are of all our ideas the nearest and most important to us,--that they will, nay, if you please, that they ought to prevail over those of order, and beauty, and harmony, and proportion, if there should ever be, as it is impossible there ever should be, any inconsistence between them : though these last two, as expressing the fitness of actions, are real as truth itself. Let it be allowed, though virtue or moral rectitude does indeed consist in affection to and


pursuit of what is right and good, as such, yet that, when we sit down in a cool hour, we can neither justify to ourselves this or any other pursuit, but from a conviction that it will be for our happiness.

Common reason and humanity will have some influence upon mankind, whatever becomes of speculations; but, so far as the interests of virtue depend upon the theory of it being secured from open scorn, so far its very being in the world depends upon its appearing to have no contrariety to private interest and self-love. The foregoing observations therefore, it is hoped, may have gained a little ground in favour of the precept before us ; the particular explanation of which shall be the subject of the next discourse.

I will conclude, at present, with observing the peculiar obligation which we are under to virtue and religion, as enforced in the verses following the text, in the epistle for the day, from our Saviour's coming into the world. “ The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of ss, and let us put on the armour of light," &c. The meaning and force of which exhortation is, that Christianity lays us under new obligations to a good life, as by it the will of God is more clearly revealed, and as it affords additional motives to the practice of it, over and above those which arise out of the nature of virtue and vice; I might add, as our Saviour has set 'us a perfect example of goodness in our own nature. Now love and charity is plainly the thing in which he hath placed his religion ; in which, there fore, as 'we have any pretence to the name of Christians, we must place

He hath at once enjoined it upon us by way of command with peculiar force; and by his example, as having undertaken the work of our salvation out of pure love and good-will to mankind. The endeavour to set home this example upon our minds is a very proper employment of this season, which is bringing on the festival of his birth; which as it may teach us many excellent lessons of humility, resignation, and obedience to the will of God, so there is none it recommends with greater authority, force and advantage, than this of love and charity; since it was

“ for us men, and for our salvation,” that “ he came down from ven, and was incarnate, and was made man;" that he might teach us our duty, and more especially that he might enforce the practice of it, reform mankind, and finally bring us to that “eternal salvation,” of which “he is the Author to all those that obey him.”



[THERE is a remarkable book of travels printed in 1640, entitled • The total Discourse of the rare Adventures and painful Peregrinations of long Nineteen Years' Travels from Scotland to the most famous Kingdoms in Europe, Asia, and Africa, &c. &c., by William Lithgow.' Mr. De Quincey, in a note to his · Confessions of an Opium-eater,' says that William Lithgow's book of travels “is ill and pedantically written, but the account of his own sufferings on the rack at Malaga is overpoweringly affecting." He was arrested at Malaga as a spy, being accused of giving information to the English ships respecting the return of the Plate fleet. In his imprisonment he underwent the extraordinary sufferings of which he lived to publish this minute account. His horrible situation became known to the English merchants at Malaga, and he was finally released. When he arrived in England, he was carried upon a bed to Theobalds to gratify the curiosity of James I., and the king sent him to Bath, where he gradually recovered his strength. No redress was ever obtained from the Spanish government; and Lithgow himself was put into the Marshalsea for threatening the Spanish ambassador, Gondomar.]

The day following the governor entered my prison alone, entreating me to confess I was a spy, and he would be my friend, and procure my pardon, neither should I lack (interim) any needful thing; but, I still attesting my innocency, he wrathfully swore I should see his face no more, till grievous torments should ake me do it; and, leaving me in a rage, he observed too well his condition.

But withal, in my audience, he commanded Areta that none should come near me except the slave, nor no food should be given me but three ounces of moosted brown bread every second day, and a fuleto or English pint of water, neither any bed, pillow, or coverlet to be allowed me: and close up, said he, this window in his room, with lime and stone, stop the holes of the door with double mats, hanging another locking to it; and, to withdraw all visible and sensible comfort from him, let no tongue nor feet be heard near him till I have my designs accomplished : and thou, Hargior, I charge thee, at thy incomings to have no conference with him, nor at thy outgoings abroad to discover him to the English factors, as thou wilt answer upon thy life, and the highest torments can be devised.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »