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2. Inter-national jurisprudence, or the laws which regulate the intercourse of different societies or nations, the
prerogatives of sovereignty, the duties of sovereigns, and the rights of government, the different forms of government, and particularly of the theory and practice of the constitution of the United States and state of Pennsylvania.
3. All that is peculiar to, and distinguishable in the jurisprudence of the United States and Pennsylvania, from that system from which our laws and institutions take their origin, and which is recognized by the common parent of these States.
Natural jurisprudence I shall consider under the following heads.
1. The duties of man towards God.
4. His duties in the relations of parent and child, brother and sister, and member of a family.
5. His duties in the relation of guardian and ward.
6. His duties in the relation of master and servant, and principal and agent.
7. His duties in the relation of heir, executor, and administra.tor.
8. His duties in the relation of trustee, and cestui que trust.
9. Of professional duties, or the duties of divines, physicians, and lawyers.
10. Of the duties of partners.
11. Of the duties which result from a relation to particular trades and occupations, societies and corporations.
12. Of the duties of magistrates, and all who are in public authority.
13. Of the duties of subjects and citizens of the State. 14. Of their duties towards one another.
15. Of the duties of the military state, and those which arise from a state of war.
16. Of the duties of aliens and captives,
18. Of the several species of contracts, the duties created by contracts, those which relate to the means of acquiring property, and those which result from its possession.
19. Of the different modes of dissolving obligations created by contract, the interpretation of them, and the consideration required for them.
20. Of equity as contradistinguished from law,
The subdivisions of the two following courses will be mentioned · in the introductory lecture, which will be delivered at the commencement of each.The length of time which must elapse before their completion renders it useless to refer to them now.
The source from whence man derives his notions of moral obligation and virtue, has been, both with ancient and modern writers, a subject of much nice and ingenious speculation.
Socrates and Plato, and their followers, in accordance with the metaphysical systems which supposed the knowledge of the human mind to be composed of forms, ideas, and principles, flowing directly from supreme intelligence into the understanding, conceived our notions of virtue to grow out of our perceptions of the forms of beauty, and out of associations derived from our view of the order, harmony, and wise contrivance of the material universe.
But, though such associations may contribute to refine and exalt our sentiments, the rules of morality are too various and intricate in their combinations; and, in the shape of justice and punishment, much too severe and inflexible in their application, to render it probable that their origin is to be sought for in beauty alone.
Aristotle supposed the virtues to be habits, which regulating our appetites, and leading and governing the trains of emotions and opinions, compelled a conformity of our actions to them. But it is obvious, that however powerful the force of virtuous habits may be, this theory leaves unexplained the mode in which they are acquired, and the cause or origin of their authority.
The ancient Epicureans, supported by Hobbes and Mandeville, among the moderns, trace the principles of moral obligation entirely to self-love, and assert that in practising them, we consult only our own ease and convenience. Hobbes asserting a state of nature to be a state of war, in which every individual is inclined and entitled to prey upon his neighbour, considers the virtues and all the institutions of society as restraints which derive their force from fear, and are submitted to from prudence, and views of ease and selfish gratification only. Perhaps this theory is less favourable to vice than has been imagined. It may derogate from the dignity of our species; but it is no slight incentive to a virtuous life, that it tends to our own happiness and preseryation. In the extent, however, to which it is carried by Hobbes, it is certainly false. Fear and self-love are not social feelings; they cannot excite, but tend naturally to cool and destroy the warm and generous affections which render society grateful..
Others, among whom the learned Dr. Cudworth and Mr. Wollaston, take the first place, conceive that morality is founded on the fitnesses and relations of things; on our perceptions of truth and falsehood; and on our natural inclination, to yield, and assent to truth, and to oppose and dissent from falsehood. The principles of moral obligation are, they say, all immutable truths. To disobey or disregard, is to deny them.-Whether they be denied by word or action, is immaterial.--He who omits to perform a duty, or commits a crime, affirms by his conduct, that the duty.
does not exist, or that the act constituting the offence is justifiable. The inference is undoubtedly well drawn, but it seems rather to constitute an additional argument in favour of the practice of virtue, than to trace the origin of virtuous sentiments. The cause of our preference of truth is unexplained; and the means or process by which we perceive the principles of morals to constitute immutable truths, not accounted for. So far as moral truths grow out of the divine commandments, the inclination to adhere to them has a higher authority than the natural aversion of the understanding to assent to falsehood. So far as they flow from reason, the hypothesis does not explain the principles by which reason discovers them; and so far as the virtues are founded in kind affections and passions, the theory is entirely irrelative to them.
Another class of writers, imagine moral sentiments to arise from our contemplation of the divine perfections. We acknowledge the power of the Creator, and adore his goodness:-We every where perceive marks of his wisdom and beneficence: And the virtues are humble endeavours to imitate and propitiate him. But the views of this perfection are not universal among men.
The Demonist and the polytheist, have not always ascribed infinite goodness to celestial power. On the contrary, they have most commonly attributed their own vices or passions, to the beings whom they conceive to be invested with divine authority; of course the moral sentiments of man, so far as they are unconnected with revelation, do not flow from contemplating the goodness and perfections of God.
Some modern authors, strongly supported by Dr. Hutchinson, have laid the foundation of these sentiments, in relation to the conduct of ourselves and others, in a peculiar and instinctive faculty which they denominate a moral sense. They urge the suddenness of our determinations on these subjects, as a proof of the absence of deliberation, their disinterestedness as inconsistent with any selfish motive, and their uniformity as opposed to the fluctuations to which the usual operations of the will and understanding are liable. But it is evident that the suddenness of our determinations, may be accounted for from the influence of habitual feelings originally produced by education or reflection; that their generousness may be ascribed to the interest we feel in examples beneficial to the species of which we form a part; and that their uniformity does not exceed the limits, within which the laws of the human mind, compel all men whose reason is unperverted, to agree in their conclusions. Murder is inconsistent with the common safety; and must therefore generally be condemned; yet in some countries, in the horrid forms of parricide and infanticide, it has been held to be justified by circumstances; and in the shape of duelling, is still sanctioned by a large and not ungenerous portion of the most civilized parts of the world. The rights of property, variously modified, have in all countries been recognized and enforced; vet, in Sparta, theft was occasionally rewarded.
Female chastity is frequently entirely disregarded by the Savage, and the sentiment which preserves it, is not always held in the highest esteem by those who enjoy the distinctions of fashion and refinement; and while one class of imaginations perceive only dignity and honour, in a stern, and sometimes cruel resentment, others yield all their sympathy to humanity, and a kindness of heart-which in its excess may be helpless and contemptible.
The ancient Stoics, with lord Shaftsbury and Mr. Hume among the moderns, in their inquiries on this subject, have mainly rested upon the perception of utility, or upon human reason, ascertaining that the welfare of each member of society cannot be accomplished but by rules favourable to the welfare of the whole, and regulating its conclusions by the discoveries which it makes of the means favourable to human happiness.
Mr. Hume has traced and analysed the tendency of the virtues which most usually excite our approbation, and has, I think, been successful in showing, that our ideas of them vary according to the usefulness of their application. He admits, however, that in our moral determinations, taste and sentiment have a powerful influence; and, perhaps, his theory is chiefly defective in not considering and showing in what this taste and sentiment consistor what is the true source of the power of conscience in the human bosom. I fear this is a secret into which the mind of man can never penetrate. Huinan reason, urged by human wants, is easily satisfied that the social state is proper for man; with the aid of a little experience, it perceives the restraints that are required for his passions, and the virtues which promote his well-being; but why is it, that the conclusions of reason furnish not only the obligations of justice, but create the feelings of duty, the sentiment of selfapprobation or censure? Why is it that man, confessedly entering into society with a view to his own preservation, often disinterestedly seeks dangers which may destroy him? Why is it, that he often voluntarily sacrifices his interest in the compact, for the be. nefit of those with whom he has contracted? What is the cause of the secret tortures which accompany undiscovered guilt, and which drive the victim to rush upon detection and punishment? Is the apprehension of human resentment sufficient to account for this? It sometimes seeks to meet that resentment, by confession unattended with hopes of pardon. Is it pride writhing under its humiliation? The enjoyments of pride have often been the temptation and reward of the criminal. Can it be accounted for, but as the immediate power of God, working within us, and carrying its own sanctions for the violation of his precepts?
But whatever may be the source or origin of our moral senti. ments, it is certain, that man is endowed with faculties, making him the author of his own actions; and that, inclined to seek good and avoid evil, he has been in all ages employed in the pursuit of ans and principles enabling him to attain the one, and escape
her. In this pursuit, as it has related to the study of the
true rules of moral obligation, he has been impeded by various
So far as our opinions of good and evil flow from our passions and affections, we are determined in our judgments, more by our peculiar dispositions than by any fixed standard of right.
The trains of thought and feeling which grow out of custom and habit, are too quick in their operations to be always governed by the understanding.
Superstition, both with the ancients and moderns, has appeared to authorise principles and practices as the will of the Deity, neither reconcileable to his goodness, nor to any just notion of taste and usefulness.
Grotius, the great restorer of the law of nature, was censured by the Inquisition, and the works of Puffendorf, his rival and imitator, were attacked with a rancour, very far removed from the liberal spirit of the rational inquirer.
Political zeal too, has hardly been less unfavourable to these inquiries than theological fervour. Moral systems almost always connected with political systems, have often' been coloured by the prejudices and opinions of the governing authority of the day. So far as the former are founded upon the natural rights and equality of man, they have ever been obnoxious to the partizans of power, and so far as they inculcate obedience, they have rarely been fully assented to, by the proud spirits who disdain obedience.
In a free country, where parties may often be supposed to grow out of peculiar classes of passions and interests, rather than questions of permanent policy, and where many of the restraints which moral systems impose may occasion jealousy, the danger of error in these inquiries, from these causes, is very much increased. It must, under such circumstances, be very difficult to establish any theory of natural jurisprudence, without being exposed to animad. version.
To avoid this danger, I shall rarely attempt to establish opinions, which either in England or this country, can by sound lawyers, now be deemed liable to controversy, but looking into, and comparing the principles which have been approved by the master nations of the world, I shall endeavour to embody the experience and reflection of past ages, on all the points of moral and legal obligation which have been stated.
Never governed in my opinions by a peculiar bias or interest, I shall not be deterred in any necessary inquiry, by the apprehension of being suspected of them.
The equality of the original rights of man, I shall assume as the natural basis of all moral and political legislation. The principles of the revolution, and of free representative government, I shall strenuously support, not only as just in themselves, but as peculiarly essential to all the interests of the American people. The rights, sovereignty, and the political and moral power of the States, I shall endeavour to sustain; always, however, teaching that it is no less necessary to the public safety, that the pow! VOL. XII.