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But this doctrine suffers an exception with respect to one who, having undertaken a trust, is bound in duty to act. A judge is in that state : it is his duty to pronounce sentence in every case thať comes before hiin; and if he judge according to his knowledge, he is not liable for consequences. A judge cannot be subjected to reparation, unless the judgement he gave was intentionally wrong. An officer of the revenue is in the same predicament. Led by a doubtful clause in a statute, he makes a seizure of goods as forfeited to the crown, which afterward, in the proper court, are found not to be seizable: he ought not to be subjected to reparation, if he have acted to the best of his judgement. This rule however must be taken with a limitation : a public officer who is grossly ignorant, will not be excused; for he ought to know better.
Reparation is due, tho' the immediate act be involuntary, provided it be connected with a preceding voluntary act. Example: “ If A ride an unruly horse in “ Lincolns-inn fields, to tame him, and " the horse breaking from A, run over B " and grievoully hurt him; B shall have
an action against A : for tho' the mischief was done against the will of A, yet since it was his fault to bring a wild horse into a frequented place where mifchief might ensue, he must answer for
the consequences.” Gaius seems to carry this rule still farther, holding'in general, that if a horse, by the weakness or unskilfulness of the rider, break away and do mischief, the rider is liable (a). But Gaius probably had in his eye a frequented place, where the mischief might have been foreseen. Thus in general, a man is made liable for the mischief occasioned by his voluntary deed, tho' the immediate act that occasioned the mischief be involuntary.
Final Causes of the foregoing Laws of
SEveral final causes have been already
mentioned, which could not conveni
(a) 1. 8. 1. ad leg. Aquil,
ently be reserved for the present section, being necessary for explaining the subjects to which they relate ; the final cause for instance of erecting a standard of morals upon
the common sense of mankind. I proceed now to what have not been mentioned, or but slightly mentioned.
The final cause that presents itself first to view, respects man considered as an accountable being. The sense of being accountable, is one of our most vigilant guards against the filent attacks of vice. When a temptation moves me, it immediately occurs, What will the world say? I imagine my friends expostulating, my enemies reviling-it would be in vain to difsemble— my spirits fink—the temptation vanishes. 2dly, Praise and blame, especially from those we regard, are strong incentives to virtue : but if we were not accountable for our conduct, praise and blame would seldom be well directed; for how shall a man's intentions be known, without calling him to account ? And praise or blame, frequently ill-directed, would lose their influence. 3dly, This branch of our nature, is the corner-stone
of the criminal law. Did not a man think himself accountable to all the world, and to his judge in a peculiar manner, it would be natural for him to think, that the. justest sentence pronounced against him, is oppression, not justice. 4thly, It promotes society. If we were not accountable beings, those connected by blood, or by country, would be no less shy and reserved, than if they were utter strangers to each other.
The final cause that next occurs, being simple and obvious, is mentioned only that it may not seem to have been overlooked. All right actions are agreeable, all wrong actions, disagreeable. This is a wise appointment of Providence. We meet with so many temptations against duty, that it is not always easy to persevere in the right path : would we persevere, were duty disagreeable? And were acts of pure benevolence disagreeable, they would be rare, however worthy of praise.
Another final cause respects duty, in contradistinction to pure benevolence. All the moral laws are founded on intuitive perception; and are fo simple and plain, as to be perfectly apprehended by the most
ignorant. Were they in any degree complex or obscure, they would be perverted by selfishness and prejudice. No conviction inferior to what is afforded by intuitive perception, could produce in mankind a common sense in moral duties. Reason would afford no general conviction; because that faculty is distributed in portions so unequal, as to bar all hopes from it of uniformity either in practice or in opinion. We are taught beside by woful experience, that reason even the most convincing, has no commanding influence over the greater part of men. Reason, it is true, aided by experience, fupports morality ; by convincing us, that we cannot be happy if we abandon duty for
other interest. But conviction seldom weighs much against imperious paflion; to control which the vigorous and commanding principle of duty is requisite, directed by the shining light of intuition.
A proposition laid down above, appears a fort of mystery in the moral fyftem, That tho' evidently all moral duties are contrived for promoting the general good, yet that a choice is not permitted among different goods, or between good and ill ;