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creature in distress calls forth the most exquisite feelings of compassion, attended with instant and strong efforts towards his relief. So essential a part of our nature are these social passions, that it is impossible for any man wholly to escape the influence of them; but if we would be witness of their strongest effects, and see them branched out into that beautiful subordination which corresponds to all the varieties of our mutual relations, we must look into domestic life. There we shall clearly see that the most frequent and almost the only causes of man's joys and sorrows are the joys and sorrows of others, and that the immediate aim of all his actions is the well-being and happiness of others. Doth not the sense of honor in the human breast derive all its force from the influence which social connexions have over us? Of what use could it be, but to beings formed for society 7 What do we infer from our dread of infamy, and from our being so strongly actuated by a passion for fame, and also from the universality and extent of this principle, but that our nature obliges us to keep up a regard to others in our whole conduct, and that the Author of nature intended we should And is it not a farther evidence of the ultimate design of this principle, that, in general, the means of being distinguished, at least of gaining a solid and lasting reputation among men, is to be useful to mankind; public utility being the most direct road to true fame 2 Every noble and exalted faculty of our nature is either directly of a social nature, or tends to strengthen the social principle. Nothing can be more evident than that the dictates of conscience strongly enforce the practice of benevolence; and the pleasures of benovolence certainly constitute the greatest part of those pleasures which we refer to the moral sense. They must necessarily do so, while the foundation of all virtue and right conduct is the happiness of society; for then every reflection that we have done our duty, must be the same thing as a reflection that we have contributed what was in our power to the good of our fellow-creatures.
Lastly, of what doth devotion itself consist, but the exercise of the social affections? What are the dispositions of our minds which are called forth into action in private or public prayer, but reverence for true greatness, humility, gratitude, love, and confidence in God, as the greatest and best of beings; qualities of the most admirable use and effect in social life.
I may add, that not only are the highest and the worthiest principles of human conduct either truly social, or a reinforcement of the social principle, but even the lowest appetites and passions of our nature are far from being indifferent to social connexions, considerations, and influences. That the pleasures we receive from the fine arts, as those of music, poetry, and painting, and the like, are enjoyed but very imperfectly except in company, is very evident to all persons who have the least taste for those pleasures. I may even venture to say, that there is hardly a voluptuary, the most devoted to the pleasures of the table, but indulges himself with more satisfaction in company than alone.
Having given this general view of the social turn of our whole natures, whereby we are continually led out of ourselves in our pursuit of happiness; I shall now consider farther, how all our appetites and passions, which are the springs of all our actions, do, in their own nature, tend to lead us out of ourselves, and how much our happiness depends upon our keeping their proper objects in view, and upon our minds being thereby constantly engaged upon something foreign to themselves; after which I shall show what are the fittest objects thus to engage our attention.
In order to preserve mutual connexion, dependence, and harmony among all his works, it has pleased our Divine Author to appoint, that all our appetites and desires, to whatever sense, external or internal, they be referred, should point to something beyond ourselves for their gratification; so that the idea of self is not in the least necessary to a state of the highest enjoyment.
When may men be said to be happy, but when their faculties are properly exercised in the pursuit of those things which give them pleasure ? I say the pursuit rather than the enjoyment, not because enjoyment makes no part of our happiness, but because the vigorous and agreeable sensations with which our minds are impressed during the pursuit of a favorite object are generally, at least in this life, of vastly more consideration. The pleasure we receive the instant we arrive at the height of our wishes may be more exquisite, but the others are of much longer continuance; and, immediately upon the gratification of any of our desires, the mind is instantly reaching after some new object. Supposing now the mind of any person to be fully and constantly engaged in the pursuit of a proper object, to the possession of which he is sensible he every day makes near approaches, and his desires be not so eager as to make him uneasy during the pursuit; what more is requisite to make him as happy as his nature can bear ! He will not be the less happy because the object he is in pursuit of is foreign to himself; nor would it make him any happier to have the idea of its contributing to his happiness. Nay, it may be shown, that it were better for us in general, with respect to real enjoyment, never to have the idea of the relation which the objects of our pursuit bear to ourselves; and this is most of all evident with respect to the higher pleasures of our nature, from which we derive our greatest happiness. Our benevolence, for instance, leads us immediately to relieve and oblige others. Pleasure, indeed, always attends generous actions, and is consequent upon them; but the satisfaction we receive in our minds from having done kind offices to others, is far less pure, and less perfectly enjoyed, if at all, when we had this, or any other private gratification, in view before the action. In like manner, he who courts applause, and does worthy actions solely with a view to obtain it, can have no knowledge of the genuine pleasure arising either from the good action itself, or the applause that is given to it; because he is sensible, in his own mind, that if those persons who praise his conduct were acquainted with the real motive of it, and knew that he meant nothing more, by his pretended acts of piety and benevolence, than to gain their applause, they would be so far from admiring and commending, that they would despise him for it. It is evident, for the same reason, that no person can enjoy the applause of his own mind on account of any action which he did with a view to gain it. The pleasures of a good conscience, or, as they are sometimes called, those of the moral sense, can not be enjoyed but by a person who steadily obeys the dictates of his conscience, and uniformly acts the part which he thinks to be right, without any view to the pleasure and self-satisfaction which may arise from it. The idea of self, as it is not adapted to gratify any of our appetites and can contribute nothing towards their gratification, can only occasion anxiety, fear, and distrust about our happiness, when it is frequently the subject of our thoughts. The apprehension and dread of misery (which is certainly the occasion of most of the real trouble and misery of man in this life) is beyond measure increased from this source; and the effects of it are most sensibly felt both in the lesser and greater scenes of our lives. It is chiefly an anxious solicitude about ourselves, and the appearance we shall make in the eyes of others, which is the cause of that affectation and constraint in behaviour which is so troublesome to a person's self, and so ridiculous in the eyes of others. This trifling remark, being so frequently verified, may serve to show that these sentiments are by no means merely speculative; but that they enter into the daily scenes of active life. Indeed they are in the highest sense practical, and upon them depend those maxims of conduct which contain the great secret of human happiness, and which are confirmed by every day's experience. That the idea of self, frequently occurring to our minds in
our pursuit of happiness, is often a real and great obstruction to it, will be more obvious from a short series of plain facts and examples, which I shall therefore mention. Why are brute creatures, in general, so contented and happy in their low sphere of life, and much more so than the mind of man could be in their situation ? Is it not because their views are perpetually fixed upon some object within their reach, adapted to their desires; and that the abstract idea of self, together with the notion of their being in the pursuit of happiness, and liable to be disappointed in that pursuit, never comes in their way to interrupt the uniform and pleasurable exertion of their faculties in the pursuit of their proper objects? The days of our infancy are happy for the same reason, notwithstanding the imperfection of our faculties, and the greater proportion of pains and disorders we are then liable to. Those years of our lives slide away in unmixed enjoyment, except when they are interrupted by the actual sensations of pain; for we are then incapable of suffering any thing from the fear of evil. It is not till after a considerable time that we get the abstract idea of self; an idea which the brutes, probably, never arrive at, and which is of excellent use to us, as will be shown in its proper place, in our pursuit of happiness; but is often abused to the great increase of our misery, as will appear by the facts we are now considering. Why are persons, whose situation in life obliges them to constant labor either of body or mind, generally more happy than those whose circumstances do not lay them under a necessity to labor, and whose own inclination does not lead them to it; but because the former have their thoughts constantly employed in the pursuit of some end, which keeps their faculties awake and fully exerted 7 And this is always attended with a state of vigorous, and consequently pleasurable, sensations. Persons thus employed have not much leisure to attend to the idea of self, and that anxiety which always attends the frequent recurring of it; whereas, a per