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beauty of many of its objects, but to their existence : So as to
What is commonly called love of complacence, presupposes beauty. For it is no other than delight in beauty; or complacence in the person or Being beloved for his beauty.
If virtue be the beauty of an intelligent Being, and virtue consists in love, then it is a plain inconsistence, to suppose that virtue primarily consists in any love to its object for its beauty; either in a love of complacence, which is delight in a Being for his beauty, or in a love of benevolence, that has the beauty of its object for its foundation. For that would be to suppose, that the beauty of intelligent Beings primarily consists in love to beauty; or, that their virtue first of all consists in their love to virtue. Which is an inconsistence, and going in a circle. Because it makes virtue, or beauty of mind, the foundation or first motive of that love wherein virtue originally consists, or wherein the very first virtue consists; or, it supposes the first virtue to be the consequence and effect of virtue. So that virtue is originally the foundation and exciting cause of the very beginning or first Being of virtue. Which * makes the first virtue, both the ground, and the consequence, both cause and effect of itself.* Doubtless virtue primarily
* Mr. E's idea here appears to be that virtue must exist prior to the existence
consists in something else besides any effect or consequence of virtue. If virtue consists primarily in love to virtue, then virtue, the thing loved, is the love of virtue : So that virtue must consist in the love of the love of virtue. And if it be inquired, what that virtue is, which virtue consists in the love of the love of, it must be answered, it is the love of virtue. So that there must be the love of the love of the love of virtue, and so on in infinitum. For there is no end of going back in a circle. We never come to any beginning, or foundation. For it is without beginning and hangs on nothing.
Therefore if the essence of virtue or beauty of mind lies in love, or a disposition to love, it must primarily consist in something different both from complacence, which is a delight in beauty, and also from any benevolence that has the beauty of its object for its foundation. Because it is absurd, to say that virtue is primarily and first of all the consequence of itself. For this makes virtue primarily prior to itself.
Nor can virtue primarily consist in gratitude; or one Being's benevolence to another for his benevolence to him. Because this implies the same inconsistence. For it supposes a benevolence prior to gratitude, that is the cause of gratitude. Therefore the first benevolence, or that benevolence which has none prior to it, cannot be gratitude.
Therefore there is room left for no other conclusion than that the primary object of virtuous love is Being, simply considered; or, that true virtue primarily consists, not in love to any particular Beings, because of their virtue or beauty, nor in gratitude, because they love us; but in a propensity and union of heart to Being simply considered; exciting absolute benevolence (if I may so call it) to Being in general....I say, true virtue primarily consists in this. For I am far from asserting that there is no true virtue in any other love than this absolute benevolence. But I would express what appears to me to be the truth on this subject, in the following particulars.
The first object of a virtuous benevolence is Being, simply considered: And if Being, simhly considered, be its object, then Being in general is its object; and the thing it has an
ultimate propensity to, is the highest good of Being in general.
And further, if Being, simply considered, be the first object of a truly virtuous benevolence, then that Being who has most of Being, or has the greatest share of existence, other things being equal, so far as such a being is exhibited to our faculties or set in our view, will have the greatest share of the propensity and benevolent affection of the heart. I say, other things being equal, éspecially because there is a secondary object of virtuous benèvolence, that I shall take notice of presently. Which is one thing that must be considered as the ground or motive to a purely virtuous benevolence. Pure be nevolence in its first exercise is nothing else but Being's uniting consent, or propensity to Being; appearing true and pure by its extending to Being in general, and inclining to the general highest good, and to each Being, whose welfare is consistent with the highest general good, in proportion to the degree of existence understood, other things being equal.
The second object of a virtuous propensity of heart is benevolent Being. A secondary ground of pure benevolence is virtuous benevolence itself in its object. When any one under the influence of general benevolence, sees another Being pos
→ I say—in proportion to the degree of existence, because one Being may have more existence than another, as he may be greater than another. That which is great, has more existence, and is further from nothing, than that; which is little. One Being may have every thing positive belonging to it, or every thing which goes to it's positive existence (in opposition to defect) in an higher degree than another; or a greater capacity and power, greater understanding, every faculty and every positive quality in an higher degree. An Archangel must be supposed to have more existence, and to be every way further `removed from nonentity, than a worm, or a flea.
sessed of the like general benevolence, this attaches his heart
to him, and draws forth greater love to him, than merely his
But several things may be noted more particularly concern ing this secondary ground of a truly virtuous love.
1. That loving a Being on this ground necessarily arises from pure benevolence to Being in general, and comes to the same thing. For he that has a simple and pure good will to general entity or existence, must love that temper in others, that agrees and conspires with itself. A spirit of consent to Being must agree with consent to Being. That which truly and sincerely seeks the good of others, must approve of, and love, that which joins with him in seeking the good of others.
2. This which has been now mentioned as a secondary ground of virtuous love, is the thing wherein true moral or spiritual beauty primarily consists. Yea, spiritual beauty consists wholly in this, and the various qualities and exercises of mind which proceed from it, and the external actions which proceed from these internal qualities and exercises. And in these things consists all true virtue, viz. in this love of Being, and the qualities and acts which arise from it.
3. As all spiritual beauty lies in these virtuous principles and acts, so it is primarily on this account they are beautiful, viz. that they imply consent and union with Being in general. This is the primary and most essential Beauty of every thing that can justly be called by the name of virtue, or is any moral excellency in the eye of one that has a perfect view of things.
I say the primary and most essential beauty-because there is a secondary and inferior sort of beauty; which I shall take notice of afterwards.
4. This spiritual beauty, that is but a secondary ground of a virtuous benevolence, is the ground, not only of benevolence, but complacence, and is the primary ground of the latter; that is, when the complacence is truly virtuous. Love to us in particular, and kindness received, may be a secondary ground: But this is the primary objective foundation of it.
5. It must be noted, that the degree of the amiableness or valuableness of true virtue, primarily consisting in consent and a benevolent propensity of heart to Being in general, in the eyes of one that is influenced by such a spirit, is not in the simple proportion of the degree of benevolent affection seen, but in a proportion compounded of the greatness of the benevolent Being One or the degree of Being and the degree of benevolence. that loves Being in general, will necessarily value good will to Being in general, wherever he sees it. But if he sees the same benevolence in two Beings, he will value it more in two, than in one only. Because it is a greater thing, more favorable to Being in general, to have two Beings to favor it, than only one of them. For there is more Being, that favors Being Both together having more Being than one alone. So, if one Being be as great as two, has as much existence as both together, and has the same degree of general benevolence, it is more favorable to Being in general than if there were general benevolence in a Being that had but half that share of existence. As a large quantity of gold, with the same degree of preciousness, i. e. with the same excellent quality of matter, is more valuable than a small quantity of the same metal.
6. It is impossible that any one should truly relish this beauty, consisting in general benevolence, who has not that temper himself. I have observed, that if any Being is possessed of such a temper, he will unavoidably be pleased with the same temper in another. And it may in like manner be demonstrated, that it is such a spirit, and nothing else, which will relish such a spirit. For if a Being, destitute of benevolence, should love benevolence to Being in general, it would