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but that we are strictly tied down to perform or forbear certain particular acts, without regard to consequences; or, in other words, that we must not do wrong, whatever good it may produce. The final cause I am about to unfold, will clear this mystery, and set the beauty of the moral system in a conspicuous light. I begin with observing, that as the general good of mankind, or even of the society we live in, results from many and various circumstances intricately combined; it is far above the capacity of man, to judge in every instance what particular action will tend the most to that end. The authorifing therefore a man to trace out his duty by weighing endless circumstances good and ill, would open a wide door to partiality and passion, and often lead him unwittingly to prefer the preponderating ill, under a false appearance of being the greater good. At that rate, the opinions of men about right and wrong, would be as various as their faces; which, as obferved above, would totally unhinge fociety. It is better ordered by Providence even for the general good, that, avoiding complex and obscure objects, we are di
rected by the moral sense to perform certain plain and simple acts, which admit no ambiguity.
In the next place, To permit ill in order to produce greater good, may fuit a being of universal benevolence; but is repugnant to the nature of man, composed of selfish and benevolent principles. We have seen above, that the true moral balance depends on a subordination of selflove to duty, and of discretionary benevolence to self-love ; and accordingly every man is sensible of injustice when he is hurt in order to benefit another. Were it a rule in society, That a greater good to any
other would make it an act of justice to deprive me of my life, of my reputation, or of my property, I should renounce the society of men, and associate with more harmless animals.
Thirdly, The true moral system, that which is display'd above, is not only better suited to the nature of man and to his limited capacity, but contributes more to the general good, which I now proceed to demonstrate. It would be losing time to prove, that one entirely selfish is ill fitted VOL, IV. L
for fociety; and we have seen (a), that universal benevolence, were it a duty, would contribute to the general good perhaps less than absolute selfishness. Man is too limited in capacity and in power
for universal benevolence. Even the greatest monarch has not power to exercise his benevolence, but within a very narrow sphere ; and if so, how unfit would such a duty be for private persons, who have very little power ? Serving only to distress them by inability of performance, they would endeavour to smother it altogether, and give full scope to selfishness. Man is much better qualified for doing good, by a constitution in which benevolence is duly blended with self-love. Benevolence as a duty, takes place of selflove; a regulation essential to fociety: benevolence as a virtue, not a duty, gives place to self-love; because as every man has more power, knowledge, and opportunity, to promote his own good than that of others, a greater quantity of good is produced, than if benevolence were our only principle of action. This holds, even supposing no harm done to any per
(a) Sect. 4.
son: much more would it hold, were we permitted to hurt some, in order to produce more good to others.
The foregoing final causes respect morality in general. We now proceed to particulars; and the first and most important is the law of restraint. Man is evidently framed for society: and as there can be no society among creatures whơ prey upon each other, it was necessary to provide against mutual injuries ; which is effectually done by this law. Its necessity with respect to personal security is felf-evident; and with respect to property, its necessity will appear from what follows. In the nature of every man there is a propensity to hoard or store up things useful to himself and family. But this natural propensity would be rendered ineffectual, were he not secured in the poffession of what he thus stores up; for no man will toil to accumulate what he cannot fecurely possess. This fecurity is afforded by the moral fenfe, which dictates, that the first occupant of goods provided by nature for the subfistence of man, ought to be protected in the possession, and that such goods ought to be inviolably his pro
perty. Thus, by the great law of restraint, men have a protection for their goods, as well as for their persons; and are no less secure in society, than if they were separated from each other by impregnable walls.
Several other duties are little less effential than that of restraint, to the existence of society. Mutual trust and confidence, without which fociety would be an uncomfortable state, enter into the character of the human species ; to which the duties of veracity and fidelity correspond. The final cause of these corresponding duties is obvious: the latter would be of no use in society without the former; and the former, without the latter, would be hurtful by laying men open to fraud and deceit.
With respect to veracity in particular, man is so constituted, that he must be indebted to information for the knowledge of most things that benefit or hurt him ; and if he could not depend upon information, society would be very little beneficial. Further, it is wisely ordered, that we should be bound by the moral sense to speak truth, even where we perceive no