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

mankind in general a disposition to pity; the natural exer,
cises whereof extend beyond those whom we are in a neap
connexion with, especially in case of great calamity ; because
commonly in such cases men stand in need of the help of
others beside their near friends, and because commonly those
calamities which are extreme, without relief, tend to men's
destruction. This may be given as the reason why men are
so made by the author of nature, that they have no instinct in-
clining as much to rejoice at the sight of others great pros-
perity and pleasure, as to be gʻrieved at their extreme calam-
ity, viz. betause they' do not stand in equal necessity of such
an instinct as that in order to their preservation. But if pare
benevolence were the source of natural pity, doubtless it
would operate to as great a degree it congratulation, in cases
of others great prosperity, as in compassion towards them in
great misery

The instincts. God has given to mankind in this world,
which in some respects resemble à virtuous benevolence, are
agreeable to the state that God designed mankind for here,
where he intends their preservation, and comfortable subsist-

But in the world of punishment, where the state of the wickod inhabitants will be exceeding different, and God will have none of these merciful designs to answer, there we have great reason to think, will be no such thing as a dis. position to pity in any case ; as also there will be no natural affection toward near relations, and no mutual affection be. tweer opposite sesses:

To conclude what I have to say on the natural instinct disa posing men to pity others in misery," I would observe, that this is a source of a kind of abhorrence in merr of some 'vices; as cruelty and oppressioni"; and so; of a sort of approbation of the contrary virtues, humanity, mercy, &c. Which aversion and: approbation, however;:só far as they arise from this caụse only, are not from a principle of true virtue.

encea

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

The Reasons why those things that have been men

tioned, which have not the Essence of Virtue,
have yet by many been mistaken for True Virtue.

[ocr errors]

THE first reason that may be given of this, is, that although they have not the specific and distinguishing nature and essence of virtųe, yet they have something that belonge to the general nature of virtue.....The general nature of true virtue is love. It is expressed both in love of benevolence and complacence; but primarily in benevolence to persons and Beings, and consequently and secondarily in complacence in virtue...as has been shewn There is something of the general nature of virtue in those natural affections and princi ples that have been mentioned, in both those respects,

In many of these natural affections there is something of the appearance of love to persons. In some of them there appears the tendency and effect of benevolence, in part. Oth ers have truly a sort of benevolence in them, though it be a private benevolence, and in several respects falls, short of the extent of true virtuous benevolence, both in its, nature and object.

The last mentioned passion, patural to mankind in their present state, viz. that of pity to others in distress, though not properly of the nature of love, as has been demonstrated, yete has partly the same influence and effect with benevolence One effect of true benevolence is to cause persons to be una: easy, when the objects of it are in distress, and to desigg their relief. And natural pity has the same effect

Natural gratitude, though in every instance wherein it apo pears it is not properly called love, because persons may be moved with a degree of gratitude towards persons on certain occasions, whom they have no real and proper friendship for, as in the instance of Saul towards David, once and again, after

1

$

David's sparing his life, when he had so fair an opportunity to kill him: Yet it has the same or like operation and effecť with friendship, in part, för a season, and with regard to so much of the welfare of its object, as appears a deserved requital of kindness received. And in other instances it may have a more general and abiding influence, so as more properly to be called by the name of love. So that many times men from natural gratitude dò really with a sort of 'benevolence love those who love them. From this, together with some other natural principles, men may love their near friends, love their own partý, love tlieir country, &c.

The natural disposition there is to mutual affection between the sexes, often operațés by what may properly be called love. There is oftentimes truly a kind both of benevolence and complacence. As there also is between parents and children.,

Thus these things have something of the general nature of virtue, which is love ;* and especially the thing last mentioned has something of a love of benevolence. What they are essentially defective in, is, that they are private in their nature, they do not arise from any temper of benevolence to Being in general, nor have they a tendency to any such effect in their operation. But yet agreeing with virtue in its general nature, they are beautiful within their own private sphere, i. e. they appear beautiful if we confine our views to that privatè system, and while we shut all other things they stand in ány relation to, out of our consideration. If that private system contained the sum of universal existence, then their benevolence would have true beauty ; or, in other words, would be beautiful, all things considered ; but now it is not so. These private systems are so far from containing the sum of universal Being, or comprehending all existence which we stand related to, that it contains but an infinitely small part of it. The reason why men are so ready to take these private affections for true virtue, is the narrowness of their views; and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* It claims to be considered, whether these things can be of the nature of virtue, even according to the distinctions the author has made.....Ed.

[ocr errors][merged small]

above all, that they are so ready to leave the divine Being out of their view, and to neglect him in their consideration, or to regard him in their thoughts, as though he were not properly belonging to the system of real existence, but as a kind of shadowý, imaginary. Being. And though most men allow that there is a God, yet in their ordinary view of things, his Being is not apt to come into the account, and to have the in-. Húence and effect of a real existence, as it is with other Beings which they see, and are conversant with by their external senses. În their views of beauty and deformity, and in the inward sensations of displicence and approbation which rise in their minds, it is not a thing natural to them to be under the influence of a view of the Deity, as part of the system, and as the head of the system, and he who is all in all, în comparison of whom all the rest is. nothing; and with regard to whom all other things are to be viewed, and their minds to be accordingly impressed and affected.

Yen; we are apt through the narrowness of our views, in. judging of the beauty of affections and actions to limit our consideration to only, a small part of the created system..... When private affections extend themselves to a considerable mumber, we ate very ready to look upon them as trựly virtuous, and accordingly to applaud them highly. Thus it is with respect to love to a large partý, or a man's love to his country. For though his private system contains bụt a sinali part even of the world of mankind, yet being a considerable number, through the contracted limits of the mind and the nartowness of his views, they are ready to fill his mind and. engröss his sight, and to seem as if they were all. Hence, among the Romans love to their country was the highest vir tue; though this affection of theirs, so much extolled among them, was employed as it were for the destruction of the rest of the world of mankind. The larger the number is

, that private affection extends to, the more apt men are, through the narrowness of their sight, to mistake it for true virtue ; be. cause then the private systém appears. to have more of the image of the universal system. Whereas, when the circle VOL. II.

3. K

1

it extends-to, is very small, it is not so apt to be looked upori virtuous, or not so virtuous. . As, a man's love to his own children.......

And this is the reason why self love is by nobody mistaken for true virtue. For though there be something of the general nature of virtue in this, here is love and good will, yet the object is so private, the limits so narrow, that it by 110 means engrosses the view ; unless it be of the person himself, who, through the greatness of his pride, may imagine himself as it were all: The minds of men are large enough to take in a vastly greater extent ; and though self love is far from being useless in the world, yea, it is exceeding necessary to society, besides its directly and greatly seeking the good of one, yet every body sees that if it be not subordinate to, and regulated by, another more extensive principle, it may make a man a common enemy to the system he is related to. And though this is as true of any other private affection, notwithstanding its extent may be to a system that contains thousands of individuals, and those private systems bear no greater proportion to the whole of universal existence, than one alone, yet they bear à greater proportion to the extent, to the view and comprehension of men's minds, and are more apt to be regarded as if they were all, or at least as some resemblance of the universal system.

Thus I have observed how many of these natural principles, which have been spoken of, resemble viftue in its primary operation, which is benevolence. Many of them also have a resemblance of it in its secondary operation, which is its approbation of and complacence in virtue itself. Several kinds of approbation of virtue have been taken notice of, as common to mankind, which are not of the nature of a truly. virtuous approbation, consisting in a sense and relish of the. essential beauty of virtue, consist ing in a Being's cordial union to Being in general, from a spirit of love to Being in general. As particularly, the approbation of conscience, from a sense of the inferior and secondary beauty which there is in virtue, consisting in uniformity, and from a sense of desert, consisting in a sense of the natural'agreement of loving and

« ÎnapoiContinuați »