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harm in transgrefling that duty ; because it is sufficient that harm may ensue, tho’ not foreseen. At the same time, falsehood always does mischief: it may happen not to injure us externally in our reputation, or in our goods ; but it never fails to injure us internally: the sweetest and most refined pleasure of society, is a candid intercourse of sentiments, of opinions, of desires, and wishes ; and it would be poisonous to indulge any falfehood in such intercourse.
Because man is the weakest of all animals in a state of separation, and the
very strongest in society by mutual aid and support; covenants and promises, which greatly contribute to these, are made binding by the moral sense.
The final cause of the law of propriety, which enforces the duty we owe to ourselves, comes next in order. In discoursing upon those laws of nature which concern society, there is no occasion to mention any felf-duty but what relates to fociety; of which kind are prudence, temperance, industry, firmness of mind. And that such qualities should be made our duty, is wisely ordered in a double
respect; first, as qualifying us to act a proper part in society; and next, as intitling us to good-will from others. It is the interest, no doubt, of every man, to suit his behaviour to the dignity of his nature, and to the station allotted him by Providence; for such rational conduct contributes to happiness, by preserving health, procuring plenty, gaining the esteem of others, and, which of all is the greatest blessing, by gaining a justlyfounded self-esteem. But here interest solely is not relied on: the powerful authority of duty is added, that in a matter of the utmost importance to ourselves, and of some importance to the society we live in, our conduct may be regular and steady. These duties tend not only to render a man happy in himself; but also, by procuring the good-will and esteem of others, to command their aid and affiftance in time of need.
I proceed to the final causes of natural rewards and punishments. It is laid down above, that controversies about property and about other matters of interest, must be adjusted by the standard of right and wrong. But to bring rewards and punishments under the same standard, with
out regard to private conscience, would be a plan unworthy of our Maker. It is clear, that to reward one who is not conscious of merit, or to punish one who is not conscious of demerit, cannot answer any good end; and in particular, cannot tend either to improvement or to reformation of manners.
How much more like the Deity is the plan of nature, which rewards no man who is not conscious that he merits reward, and punishes no man who is not conscious that he merits punishment! By that plan, and by that only, rewards and punishments accomplish every good end, a final cause most illustrious !
The rewards and punishments that attend the primary and secondary virtues, are finely contrived for supporting the diftinction between them fet forth above. Punishment must be confined to the transgression of primary virtues, it being the intention of nature that secondary virtues be entirely free. On the other hand, secondary virtues are more highly rewarded than primary: generosity, for example, makes a greater figure than justice; and magnanimity, heroism, undaunted cou
rage, a still greater figure. One would imagine at first view, that the primary virtues, being more essential, should be intitled to the first place in our esteem, and be more amply rewarded than the secondary; and yet in elevating the latter above the former, peculiar wisdom and foresight are conspicuous. Punishment is appropriated to enforce primary virtues ; and if these virtues were also attended with the highest rewards, secondary virtues, degraded to a lower rank, would be deprived of that enthusiastic admiration which is their chief support : self-interest would universally prevail over benevolence; and would banish those numberless favours we receive from each other in society, which are beneficial in point of interest, and fill more so by generating affection and friendship.
In our progress through final causes, we come at last to reparation, one of the principles destined by Providence for redressing wrongs committed, and for preventing reiteration. The final cause of this principle where the mischief arises from intention, is clear : for to protect individuals in society, it is not sufficient that the
delinquent be punished; it is necessary over and above, that the mischief be repaired.
Secondly, Where the act is wrong or unjuft, tho' not understood by the author to be fo, it is wisely ordered that reparation should follow; which will thus appear. Considering the fallibility of man, it would be too severe never to give any allowance for error. On the other hand, to make it a law in our nature, never to take advantage of error, would be giving too much indulgence to indolence and remission of mind, tending to make us neglect the improvement of our rational faculties. Our nature is so happily framed, as to avoid these extremes by distinguishing between gain and loss. No man is conscious of wrong, when he takes advantage of an error committed by another to save himself from loss : if there must be a loss, common sense dictates, that it ought to rest upon the person who has erred, however innocently, rather than upon the person who has not erred. Thus, in a competition among creditors about the estate of their bankrupt debtor, every one is at liberty to avail himself of an erVol.lv,