« AnteriorContinuar »
finite power, but the rules of this eternal law are the PROP. true foundation and the measure of his dominion over his creatures. (For, if infinite power was the rule and measure of right, it is evident that goodness and mercy, and all other divine perfections, would be empty words without any signification at all.) Now, for the same reason that God, who hath no superior to determine him, yet constantly directs all his own actions by the eternal rule of justice and goodness; it is evident all intelligent creatures, in their several spheres and proportions, ought to obey the same rule according to the law of their nature, even though it could be supposed separate from that additional obligation of its being the positive will and command of God; and, doubtless there have been many men in all ages, in many parts of the heathen world, who, not having philosophy enough to collect from mere nature any tolerably just and explicit apprehensions concerning the attributes of God, much less having been able to deduce from thence any clear and certain knowledge of his will, have yet had a very great sense of right and truth, and been fully persuaded in their own minds of many unalterable obligations of mora
omnis originem universaliter et distincte considerassem ; dominium Dei, in creationem velut integram ejus originem, resolvere. Verum quoniam, &c.in hanc tandem concessi sententiam, dominium Dei esse jus vel potestatem ei a sua sapientia et bonitate, velut a lege, datam ad regimen eorum omnium quæ ab ipso unquam creata fuerint vel creabuntur.Nec poterit quisquam merito conqueri, dominium Dei intra nimis angustos limites hac explicatione coerceri; qua hoc unum dicitur, illius nullam partem consistere in potestate quicquam faciendi contra finem optimum, bonum commune.--Idem, page 345, 346.
Contrà autem, Hobbiana resolutio dominii divini in potentiam ejus irresistibilem adeo apertè ducit ad, &c. -ut mihi dubium non sit, illud ab eo fictum fuisse, Deoque attributum, in eum tantum finem, ut juri suo omnium in omnia patrocinaretur.-Id. page 344.
Nos e contrario, fontem indicavimus, e quo demonstrari potest, justitiam universalem, omnemque adeo virtutem moralem, quæ in rectore requiritur, in Deo præ cæteris refulgere, eadem planè metho
homines ad eas excolendas obligari ostendemus.--Id. page
The law of nature ob
PROP. lity : But this speculation, though necessary to be
taken notice of in the distinct order and method of 'discourse, is in itself too dry, and of less use to us, who are abundantly assured that all moral obligations are, moreover, the plain and declared will of God, as shall be shown particularly in its proper place.
7. Lastly, This law of nature has its full obliga
tory power, antecedent to all consideration of any ligalury, antecedent particular private and personal reward or punishto all con- ment, annexed, either by natural consequence or by of particu- positive appointment, to the observance or neglect of
it. This also is very evident; because if good and punish evil, right and wrong, fitness and unfitness of being
practised, be (as has been shown) originally, eternally, and necessarily, in the nature of the things themselves, it is plain that the view of particular
rewards or punishments, which is only an after-consideration, and does not at all alter the nature of things, cannot be the original cause of the obligation of the law, but is only an additional weight to enforce the practice of what men were before obliged to by right reason : There is no man, who has any just sense of the difference between good and evil, but must needs acknowledge that virtue and goodness are truly amiable,* and to be chosen for their own sakes and intrinsic worth, though a man had no prospect of gaining any particular advantage to himself, by the practice of them; and that, on the contrary, cruelty, violence, and oppression, fraud, injustice, and all manner of wickedness, are of themselves hateful, and by all means to be be avoided; even though a man had absolute assurance that he should bring no manner of ineonvenience upon himself by the commission of any or all of these crimes.f This likewise is excel
* Dignæ itaque sunt, quæ propter intrinsecam sibi perfectionem appetantur, etiam si nulla esset naturæ lex, quæ
illas imperaret.Cumberland de Leg. Nat. page 281.
+ Ανήρ δίκαιός έστιν, έχ ο μή άδικών,
lently and admirably expressed by Cicero :* Virtue, PROP. saith he, is that which, though no profit or advantage whatsoever was to be expected to a man's self from the practice of it, yet must, without all controversy, be acknowledged to be truly desirable for its own sake alone. And, accordingly,t all good men love right and equity, and do many things without any prospect of advantage at all, merely because they are just and right and fit to be done: On the contrary, vice is so odious in its own nature, and so fit to be avoided, even though no punishment was to ensue, that no man,f who has made any tolerable proficiency in moral philosophy, can in the least doubt, but, if he was sure the thing could be for ever concealed entirely both from God and men, so that there should not be the least
'Ουδ' δ'ς τα μικρά λαμβάνειν απέσχέθο,
Atque hæc omnia propter se solum, ut nihil adjungatur emolumenti, petenda sunt.—Id. de Inventione, lib. 2.
Nihil est de quominus dubitari possit, quam et honesta expetenda per se, et, eodem modo, turpia per se esse fugienda.-Id. de Finib.
+ Jus et omne honestum, sua sponte est expetendum. Etenim omnes viri boni, ipsam æquitatem et jus ipsum amant.--Id. de Legib. lib. 1.
Optimi quique permulta ob eam unam causam faciunt, quia decet quia rectum, quia honestum est etsi nullum consecuturum emolumentum vident.-Id. de Finib. lib. 2.
#Satis enim nobis, (si modo aliquid in philosophia profecimus,) persuasum esse debet, si omnes Deos hominesque celare possimus, nihil tamen avare, nihil injuste, nihil libidinose, nihil incontinenter esse faciendum.-Id. de Offic. lib. 3.
Si nemo sciturus, nemo ne suspicaturus quidem sit, quum aliquid divitiarum, potentiæ, dominationis, libidinis causa feceris ; si id Diis hominibusque futurum sit semper ignotum, sisne facturus ?
PROP. suspicion of its being ever discovered, yet he ought
not to do any thing unjustly, covetously, wilfully, passionately, licentiously, or any way wickedly, Nay,* if a good man had it in his power to gain all his neighbour's wealth by the least motion of his finger, and was sure it would never be at all suspected either by God or man, unquestionably he would think he ought not to do it; and whoever wonders at this, has no notion what it is to be really a good man :† Not that any such thing is possible in nature, that any wickedness can be indeed concealed from God, but only, upon such a supposition, the natural and necessary difference between justice and injus
tice is made to appear more clearly and undeniably. Yet it does Thus far is clear. But now from hence it does not from not at all follow, either that a good man ought to all follow, have no respect to rewards and punishments, or that either that rewards and punishments are not absolutely necessary man ought to maintain the practice of virtue and righteousness to have no in this present world. It is certain, indeed, that vir
tue and vice are eternally and necessarily different; and pun. and that the one truly deserves to be chosen for its or that re. own sake, and the other ought by all means to be wards and avoided, though a man was sure, for his own particupunishre lar, neither to gain nor lose any thing by the pracnot abso- tice of either. And if this was truly the state of things lutely her in the world, certainly that man must have a very maintain corrupt mind, indeed, who could in the least doubt, or the prac- so much as once deliberate with himself, which he tue in this would choose. But the case does not stand thus.
The question now in the general practice of the world.
world, supposing all expectation of rewards and punishments set aside, will not be, whether a man would
respect to rewards
* Itaque si vir bonus habeat hanc vim, ut, si digitis concrepuerit, possit in locupletum testamenta nomen ejus irrepere, hac vi non utatur, ne si exploratum quidem habeat id omnino neminem unquam suspicaturum. -Hoc qui admiratur, is se, quis sit vir bonus, nes cire fatetur.-Idem. de Offic. lib. 3.
+ Κάν ει μή δυνατόν είη ταύτα λανθάνειν και θεές και ανθρώπες, όμως δοτέον είναι, τα λόγε ένεκα ίνα αυτή δικαιοσύνη προς αδικίαν αυτην κριθείη.Plato de Republ. lib. 10.
choose virtue for its own sake, and avoid vice; but the PROP.
1. practice of vice is accompanied with great temptations, and allurements of pleasure and profit; and the practice of virtue is often threatened with great calamities, losses, and sometimes even with death itself. And this alters the question, and destroys the practice of that which appears so reasonable in the whole speculation, and introduces a necessity of rewards and punishments. For though virtue is unquestionably worthy to be chosen for its own sake, even without any expectation of reward, yet it does not follow that it is therefore entirely self-sufficient, and able to support a man under all kinds of sufferings, and even death itself, for its sake, without any prospect of future recompense. Here, therefore, began the error of the Stoics, who taught that the bare practice of virtue was itself the chief good, and able of itself to make a man happy, under all the calamities in the world. Their defence indeed of the cause of virtue was very brave: they saw well that its excellency was intrinsic, and founded in the nature of things themselves, and could not be altered by any outward circumstances; that therefore virtue must needs be desirable for its own sake, and not merely for the advantage it might bring along with it; and if so, then consequently neither could any external disadvantage, which it might happen to be attended with, change the intrinsic worth of the thing itself, or ever make it cease to be truly desirable. Wherefore, in the case of sufferings and death, for the sake of virtue; not having any certain knowledge of a future state of reward, (though the wisest of them did indeed hope for it, and think it highly probable ;) they were forced, that they might be consistent with their own principles, to suppose the practice of virtue a sufficient reward to itself in all cases, and a full compensation for all the sufferings in the world. And accordingly they very bravely indeed taught, that the practice of virtue was not only* infinitely to be preferred before all the
* Est autem unus dies bene et ex preceptis tuis actus, peccanti immortalitati anteponendus.-Cic. Tusc. Quæst. l. 5.