Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

beauty of many of its objects, but to their existence : So as to
be the ground both of their existence and their beauty, rather
than they the foundation of God's benevolence; as it is sup-
posed that it is God's goodness which moved him to give them
both Being and beauty. So that if all virtue primarily con-
sists in that affection of heart to Being, which is exercised in-
benevolence, or an inclination to its good, then God's virtue is
so extended as to include a propensity, not only to Being actu-
ally existing, and actually beautiful, but to possible Being, so
as to incline him to give Being, beauty and happiness. But
not now to insist particularly on this. What I would have
observed at present, is, that it must be allowed, benevolence
doth not necessarily presuppose beauty in its object.

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
of any
virtuous object on which it can complaisantly terminate. This is
undoubtedly true with respect to the duty. But this does not appear incon-
sistent with the supposition that the first act of virtue in a creature may be da
light in virtue as it iş in God -Ed.

[merged small][ocr errors]

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

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ultimate propensity to, is the highest good of Being in general.
And it will seek the good of every individual Being unless it
bé conceived as not consistent with the highest good of Being
in general. In which case the good of a particular Being, or
some Beings, may be given up for the sake of the highest
good of Being in general. And particularly if there be any
Being that is looked upon as statedly and irreclaimably oppo-
site and an enemy to Being in general, then consent and adher-
ence to Being in general will induce the truly virtuous heart
to forsake that Being, and to oppose it.

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.

VOL. II.

3 C

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

sessed of the like general benevolence, this attaches his heart

to him, and draws forth greater love to him, than merely his
having existence: Because so far as the Being beloved has
love to Being in general, so far his own Being is, as it were,
enlarged, extends to, and in some sort comprehends, Being
in general: And therefore he that is governed by love to Being
in general, must of necessity have complacence in him, and
the greater degree of benevolence to him, as it were out of
gratitude to him for his love to general existence, that his own
heart is extended and united to, and so looks on its interest as
its own. It is because his heart is thus united to Being in gen-
eral, that he looks on a benevolent propensity to Being in
general, wherever he sees it, as the beauty of the Being in
whom it is; an excellency, that renders him worthy of esteem,
complacence, and the greater good will.

:

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.

1

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

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

.

[ocr errors]
« ÎnapoiContinuă »