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being beloved, shewing kindness and receiving kindness. So from the same principle, there is a disapprobation of vice, from a natural opposition to deformity and disproportion, and a sense of evil desert, or the natural agreement there is between hạting and being hated, opposing and being opposed, &c. together with a painful sensation naturally arising in a sense of self opposition and inconsistence. Approbation of .conscience is the more readily mistaken for a truly virtuous approbation, because by the wise constitution of the great gov. ernor of the world (as was observed) when conscience is well informed, and thoroughly awakened, it agrees with the latter fully and exactly, as to the object approved, though not as to the ground and reason of approving. It approves all virtue, and condemns all vice. It approves true virtue, and indeed approves nothing that is against it, or that falls short of it; as was shewn before. And indeed natural conscience is implanted in all mankind, there to be as it were in God's stead, and to be an internal judge or rule to all, whereby to distinguish right and wrong.

It has also been observed, 'how that virtue, consisting in benevolence, is approved, and vice, consisting in ill will, is disliked, from the influence of self love, together with association of ideas, in the same manner as men dislike those qualities in things without life or reason, with which they have always connected the ideas of hurtfulness, malignancy, perniciousness; but like those things with which they habitually connect the ideas of profit, pleasantness, comfortableness, &c. This sort of approbation or liking of virtue, and dislike of vice, is easily mistaken for true virtue, not only because those things are approved by it that have the nature of virtue, and the things disliked have the nature of vice, but because here is much of resemblance of virtuous approbation, it being complasence from love ; the difference only lying in this, that it is not from love to Being in general, but from self love.

There is also, as has been shewn, a liking of some virtues, and dislike of some vices, from the influence of the natural inştinct of pity. This, men are apt to mistake for the exercise

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of true virtue, on many accounts. Here is not only a kind of complacence, and the objects of complacence are what have the nature of virtue, and the virtues indeed very amiable, such as humanity, mercy, tenderness of heart, &c. and the contrary very odious ; but besides, the approbation is not iperely from self love, but from compassion, an affection that respects others, and resembles benevolence, as has been shewn.

Another reason, why the things which have been mention, ed are mistaken for true virtue, is, that there is indeed a true. negative moral goodness in them. By a negative moral good. ness, I mean the negation or absence of true, moral evil..... They have this negative moral goodness, because a being without them would be an evidence of a much greater moral evil... Thus, the exercise of natural conscience in such and such degrees, wherein appears such a measure of an awaken: ing or sensibility of conscience, though it be not of the nature of real positive virtue or true moral goodness, yet has a negative moral goodness; because in the present state of things, it is an evidence of the absence of that higher degree of wicked, ness, which causes great insensibility or stupidity of conscience. For sin, as was observed, is not only against a spiritual and divine sense of virtue, but is also against the dictates of that moral senso which is in natural conscience. No won.. der, that this sense being long opposed and often conquered, grows weaker. All sin has its source from selfishness, or from self love, not subordinate to regard to Being in general. And natural conscience chiefly. consists in a sense of desert, or the natural agreement between sin and misery. But if self were indeed all, and so more considerable than all the world besides, there would be no ill desert in his regarding himself above all, and making all other interests give place to private interest. And no wonder that men by long, acting from the selfish principle, and by being habituated to treat themselves as if they were all, increase in pride, and come as it were naturally to look on themselves, as all, and so to lose entirely the sense of ill desert in their making all other interests give place to their own....And no wonder that men by

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often repeating acts of sin, without punishment, or any visible appearance of approaching punishment, have less and less sense of the connexion of sin with punishment. That sense which an awakened conscience has of the desert of sin, con sists chiefly in a sense of its désert of resentment of the Deity, the fountain and head of universal existence. Bụt no wonder that by a long continued worldly and sensual life; men more and more lose all sense of the Deity, who is a spir: itual and invisible Being. The mind being long involved in, and engrossed by sensitive objects, becomes sensual in all its operations, and excludes all views and impressions of spiritual objects, and is unfit for their contemplation. Thus the conscience and general benevolence are entirely different principles, and sense of conscience differs from the holy complacence of a benevolent and truly virtuous heart. Yet wickedness may, by long habitual exercise, greatly diminish a sense of conscience.' So that there may be negative moral goodness, in sensibility of conscience, as it may be an argument of the absence of that higher degree of wickedness, which causeth stupidity of conscience.

So with respect to natural gratitude, though there may be no virtue merely in loving them that love us, yet the contrary may be an evidence of a great degree of depravity, as it may argue a higher degree of selfishness, so that a man is come to look upon himself as all, and oihers as nothing, and so their respect and kindness as nothing. Thus an increase of pride diminishes gratitude.....So does sensuality, or the increase of sensual appetites, and coming more and more under the power and impression of sensible objects, tends by degrees to make the mind insensible to any thing else ; and those appetites

the whole soul ; and through habit and custom the . water is all drawn out of other channels, in which it naturally flows, and is all carried as it were into one channel.

In likė manner natural affection and natural pity, though not of the nature of virtue, yet may be diminished greatly by the increase of those two principles of pride and sensuality, and as the consequence of this, being habitually disposed to envy, malice, &c. Thes. lusts when they prevail to a high

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THE NATURE OF VIRTUE,
degree may overcome and diminish the exercise of those nato
ural principles : Even as they often overcome and diminish
common prudence in a man, as to seeking his own private
interest, in point of health, wealth or honor, and yet no one
will think it proves that a man's being cunning, in seeking his
own personal and temporal interest has any thing of the na-
ture and essence of true virtue.

Another reason why these natural principles and affections
are mistaken for true virtue, is, that in several respects they
have the same effect which true virtue tends to ; especially
in these two ways.....

1. The present state of the world is so ordered and constituted by the wisdom and goodness of its supreme ruler, that these natural principles for the most part tend to the good of the world of mankind. So do natural pity, gratitude, parental affection, &c. Herein they agree with the tendency of general benevolence, which seeks and tends to the general good. But this is no proof that these natural principles have the nature of true virtue. For self love is a principle that is ex: ceeding useful and necessary in the world of mankind. So are the natural appetites of hunger and thirst, &c. But yet nobody will assert, that these have the nature of true virtue.

2. These principles have a like effect with true virtue in this

respect, that they tend several ways to restrain vice, and prevent many acts of wickedness. So, natural affection, love to our party, or to particular friends, tends to keep us from acts of injustice towards these persons ; which would be real wickedress. Pity preserves from cruelty, which would be real and great moral evil. Natural conscience tends to restrain sin in general, in the present state of the world. But neither cạn this prove these principles themselves to be of the nature of true virtue. For so is this present state of mankind order, ed by a merciful God, that men's self love does in innumerable respects restrain from acts of true wickedness ; and not only so, but puts men upon seeking true virtue ; yet is not itself true virtue, but is the source of all the pickedness that is in the world.

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Another reason why these inferior affections especially some of them, are accounted virtuous, is, that there are affecw tions of the same denomination, which are truly virtuous ...' Thus, for instance, there is a truly virtuous pity, or a compas. sion to others under affliction or misery from general benevolence. Pure benevolence would be sufficient to excité pity to another in calamity, if there were no particular instinct, or any other principle determining the mind thereto. It is easy to see how. benevolence, which seeks, another's good should cause us to desire his deliverance from evil. . And this is a source of pity far more extensive than the other. It excitęs compassion in cases that are overlooked-by natural instinct. And even in those cases to which instinct extends, it mixes its influence with the natural principle, and guides and regulates its operations. And when this is the case, the pity which is exercised may be called a virtuous compassion. So there is a virtuous gratitude, or a gratitude that arises not only from self love, but from a superior principle of disinterested general be-' nevolencé. As it is manifest, that when we receive kindness from such as we love already, we are more disposed to gratitude, and disposed to greater degrees of it than when the mind is destitute of any such friendly prepossession. Therefore, when the superior principle of virtuous love has a governing hand, and regulates the affair, it may be called a virtuous gratitude. So there is a virtuous love of justice, arising from pure benevolence to Being in general, as that naturally and necessarily inclinės the heart, that every particular Being should have sucht a share of benevolence as is proportioned to its dignity, consisting in the degree of its Being, and the degree of its virtue. Which is entirely diverse from an apprehension of justice, from a sense of the beauty of uniformity in variety : As has been particularly shewn already. And so it is easy to see how there may be a virtuous sense of desert different from what is natural and common. And so a virtuous conscienciousness or a sanctified conscience. And as when natural afections have their operations mixed with the influence of virtuous benevolence, and are directed and determined hereby, they may be called yirtuous, so there may be a virtuous love of parents to chil

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