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defigns of our Creator, without them ; perhaps, too, the difcovery of them has been owing to a secondary necessity, the consequence of our moral degeneracy, and of the fatal loss of our original integrity. The progress that has been made in them has required great expence of time and repeated efforts.
• This was not the case with those arts and sciences, with. out which men could neither preserve their lives, nor live agreeably with each other. As beings endowed with life, food was necessary for them; as reasonable beings, endowed with freedom and sentiment, called to action, and capable of diversifying their actions a thousand different ways, and of finding, in the consequences of them, either pleasure or pain, the art of acting well, or the science of morals, was necessary to them as foon as they existed. Thus, whether it was owing to interest, to reasoning, or to the supernatural instruction of their Creator, these two arts, viz. that of living and acting, were sufficiently known to them, to be able, when occasion required, to act in the properest manner, and to answer the designs of their origiRal Former.
But it would be a strange mistake to imagine, that men, in those carly ages, even those who rendered themselves illustrious by the perfection of their virtue, were philosophers, 'properly fo called ; that is to say, men of learning, who went through a regular course of study, and taught what they knew in an accurate manner. The science of morals, the art of living, which they taught, was not like what we now call a regular system, a course of moral philosophy, a body of natural law. Such complete and scientific systems are of modern date.
. In the first ages of the world, men were under the direction of a much surer guide than all our treatises and dissertations, Certain fa&ts well ascertained, certain truths, considered as unquestionable, and frequently confirmed by new facts, were to them evident principles, axioms, upon which sophistry had not as yet tried her skill, nor a counterfeit philosophy rendered doubtful. From these principles, as from a fruitful source, each individual, without the aid of reasoning, and as it were, by a single glance, drew certain consequences, which his soul felt the force and juftness of, and formed to himself sure rules of conduct for every particular exigence. A father, without the affiftance of philosophy, gave virtuous precepts to his children, and the leader of a people to those whom he governed. All their morality consisted in these precepts, which were expressed with simplicity, brevity, and perspicuity, in the form of incontestible axioms, which every one thought himself obliged to observe. Without proving the existence of God, which nobody questioned, they said, it was necessary to reverence him ; without reasoning upon his authority
and his rights, they said, it was necessary to obey him ; without enquiring what conscience was, they obeyed its dictates; without entering into any discussion in regard to justice and injustice, they never confounded them; they esteemed and recommended the one as the will of God, they blamed and forbid the other, es disobedience to the supreme Being; without disputing upan the immortality or immateriality of the soul, a future state, or the nature of rewards and punishment, they were afraid of offending that God who abhors wickedness, and will not fail to punish it: and were convinced of the necessity of practising virtue, which was sure of obtaining the approbation and blefling of heaven.
Such was, in general, the method of the earliest Writers, whether inspired or uninspired: and such is the idea which they give us of the morality of their own, and of the preceeding times.
• Their principles are,—the existence of one God, a providence which interests itself in the affairs of men, a sovereign authority which lays men under an obligation of obedience, a divine will which enjoins virtue and forbids vice, divine justice which sooner or later rewards the one and punishes the other, together with a sufficient share of knowlege in all men to dilo tinguish between vice and virtue upon every occasion.
They make use of these principles as of so many mathematical axioms, which there is no occafion to demonstrate, as they are supposed to be known and admitted by every body. Their morality consisted in practical precepts or rules of conduct, without any speculative or philosophical reasonings to explain or illustrate them; they were contented with enforcing them by motives drawn from the fear of God, and from present utility.
• It is sufficient to read the sacred books of the Old Testaa ment, to be convinced of the truth of what I have said, and to acknowlege that we must not expect to find in these divine productions, either a connected treatise, or regular system according to the scientific method of modern philosophers; in a word, that we must not look for a philosopher among the authors of these Writings. They address themselves to the memory only, for facts; to conscience for precepts; and to fenti ment, for motives ; without entering into any discussion, enquiry, or speculative dispute.
• The same may be said in this respect, of those Authors who were not inspired. None of the historians, poets or moralists, before the foundation of the philosophic schools in Greece, have given us a regular treatise of morals. We find in them, however, all the foundations of the art of living, all the prinsiples of morality, all the real motives to virtue, and the
greatest part of the essential precepts of a regular and useful life.
« Homer and Hefiod, the oldest poets, whose works have reached us, furnish an example, in regard to uninspired Authors, which confirms the idea I have given of the state of morality before the eftablishment of the philofophic schools in Greece. According to them, the laws of justice had God for their author. His authority gave these laws their obligatory force, and the distributive justice of heaven was the motive to obedience.
« Such too was the state of morality among the Indians, Perfians, Phænicians, Egyptians, Greeks, Gauls, Latines, and every other nation under heaven. The notion of a future life, wherein the virtuous were to be rewarded, and the wicked punished, prevailed univerfally. Orpheus, we are told, brought this notion from Egypt into Greece, and Homer adopted it. It would be endless to repeat all that is to be found upon this subject in the writings of the poets, who were, for many ages, the only teachers of morality, and who carefully preserved in their works the notions and ideas of former times.
• Morality lost this useful' fimplicity, when the philosophers, as they were called, begun to treat of it. A curiosity, pushed too far, made them enter into the discussion of several curious questions in relation to those clear and efficacious principles, which had been fufficient in former times; and the pride of explaining every difficulty became a dangerous (pur to this curiofity. What was formerly a practical art, became now a speculative science, a subject of controversy. Different systems were erected, and warm contentions arose in support of them. Some attacked, others defended, all were eager for victory, and all contended earnestly for or against propositions, as they were or were not favourable to their several schemes : first principles were sendered doubtful, nay they even went so far as to deny them absolutely; and criminal pasions, impatient of being restrained by the precepts and laws of virtue, found their interest in darkning or even rejecting the truth, and, accordingly, availed themselves of these disorders and increased them. The voice of confcience was stilled in many persons by every kind of sophistry. New enquiries, and profounder studies were necessary, to form a judgment of those controversies, and after much labour and application, they still found themselves in a fate of uncertainty in many respects. Happily for mankind, the bulk of the peo ple were incapable of entering into those disputes, left them to the philosophers, and continued to follow the dictates of conscience, and to reverence antient maxims, when no violenít párfion intervened. There were some wise philosophers too, who
endeavoured to strengthen the laws of virtue, rather than support their own fyftems.'
The profeffor now proceeds to give a short account of the principal moral writers, and their fyftems, from Pythagoras down to Mr. Hutchinson of Glasgow. This part of the work cannot fail of being agreeable both to the learned Reader, and the young student. But we must not enlarge, and shall conclude this article with acquainting our Readers, that the work now before us contains only the principles of natural law.
FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE. To the AUTHORS of the MONTHLY REVIEW.
GENTLEMEN, N your Review for May 1766, you were pleased to give a favour.
able account of the book which Mr. Wynne has tranNated under the uitle of The Principal Truths of Natural Religion,' and to recommend is to the public. It muf flatter mę, as, the Author of it, to have got the approbation of Gentlemen, who have long established, by their judicious criticisms, a great reputation for learning, penetration and taite.
As to the book which Mr. Wynne has published, I will not deny, that in the main it contains the fubitance of my thoughts ; I'll allow also, that Mr. W. has had a very good intention in printing it. But, as he has frequently tranfgressed the bounds of a faithful translator, he really has done no good service to the book nor to the Author; of which I must beg the favour of you to give notice to the Public,
Wr. Wynne, in translating, did not make use of the German origi. nal, but had a good and faithful Dutch translation before him, done by Mr. Jo. Fred. Fortmeyer, and which the learned Professor Lulofs not only caused to be published, but enriched it also by several of bis own semarks, at Leiden, 1758, in 8vo. Mr. w. might have seen hereby, that other men of judgment did not think the Notes to be fuperfluous. They are partly designed to let every one read the very words of ancient and modern authors, and thence to judge by himself
, whether theit meaning be well expressed in the text, and whether those who are refuted have been treated with justice. Other notes, and the greateft part of them, contain some illuftrations of the matters from natural hiftory, or farther explications and proofs of the arguments : both which ought not to have been withheld from a book which draws its arguments from the contemplation of nature. But Mr. W. besides omitting most of the notes, often maims the text so much, by, abridging and contracting my ten differtations into nine, that the arguments are thereby made obscure, enervate, or are even quite misrepresented. My preface seemed also superfluous to him: yet an, author takes this occasion, to declare to the Reader his design, the plan, the bounds and the use of his work. The index too is omitted, though often required in works of this kind. As to the translation itself, Tome small mistakes which Mr. W. has fallen into may be eafily excused. For indance; p. 47, from his perhaps not knowing of any other Wolff, he represents the baron of that name, che celebrated philosopher and mathematician, as author of
the Bibliotheca Hebrea, which however lies entirely out of his province. -To illustrate the argument, that lifeless natter can have no enjoyment from its being or peculiar properties, I mentioned, among other productions of art, Mr. Vaucanson's artificial human figure playing an air upon the flute, which thereby does not (I say) please its own ear, but that of others. Mr. W. from not having heard any thing of Mr. Vaucanson's invention, omits this name, p. 1021 and makes a real living musician of it: thus (says he) a musician does not play to entertain bimself, but the company.' This destroys the sense entirely, mifrepresents the intention of the argument, and is in fact partly false. I don't know what may be his meaning, p. 229. where he says of the filkworm, it Spins its coque in the form of a cone :' for such a form of spinning I never heard of.—But these instances I only mention by the way: fevesal others may occur, which a candid reader won't, I hope, impute to the author of the work. For, there are many other passages, where, I observed, that my meaning is not at all well expressed, and which, if Mr. Wynne or the bookseller had a mind to publish a more accurate translation, I could point out to them.
But, what I would principally alk Mr. Wynne, whether in the chas racter of a translator or abbreviator, is, how he took the liberty of his own accord, to add these words to the title ? • wherein the objecions of Lucretius, Buffon, Maupertuis, Rousseau, La Mettrie and other ancient and modern followers of Epicurus are considered and their doctrines refuted.' This I did not write, nor is it to be found in the title of the original German edition, nor in that of the accurate Dutch translation. I allo profess, that it is injurious to the honour of these three gentlemen, whom I esteem for their merits, and is contrary to what I have expressed in my work, to call them followers of Epicurus, and to arrange them in the same class with La Mettrie. Indeed I dispute Mr. Maupertuis's and Mr. Buffon's opinion, where they reject the final causes in the creation, and think the general principles of truth to be of no use. But this has also been the sentiment of Bacon and of Des Cartes, though they were no followers of Epicurus. I had spoke to the advantage of Mr. Maupertuis's religion in Diff. iv. $. 9. note 6. of the German edi: tion, but this note is omitted by Mr. W. I shewed, that Mr. Buffon, rejecting the design or final causes, and endeavouring to explain the inftinct of brutes, and particularly the oeconomy of bees, in a mechanical way, gives no satisfactory or true explication of the matter : and this is all I said against him. But Mr. W. has also entirely left out, bo:h of the text and the notes, all this argumentation. Of Mr. Rousseau I faido in Diff. vii. f. 4. that probably his singular humour only made him argue against a social state, and against the unequal conditions of men. No other imputation is uttered : but even this passage I do not find in Mr. Wynne's translation. Whence then did he form such an injurious opinion of these three gentlemen, who have declared sufficiently by their ; writings, that they differ widely from Epicurus, and that they have much better sentiments of religion ; and why did he lay it to my charge in the title-page, and in such a manner as if the whole book had been wrote to this end ? Mr. W. I believe had not so bad an intention by tak: ing this liberty, but only thought to fix the attention of the reader, and to procure a better sale of the book. Yet this should not be done at the expence of the well-merited repatation of others, whose partisans being