« AnteriorContinuar »
ing to complete the moral fystem ; fome means for redressing such wrongs, and for preventing the reiteration of them. To accomplish these important ends, there are added to the moral system, laws relative to rewards and punishments, and to reparation ; of which in their order.
Many animals are qualified for society by instinct merely ; such as beavers, sheep, monkeys, bees, rooks. But men are seldom led by instinct : their actions are commonly prompted by passions; of which there is an endless variety, social and selfish, benevolent and malevolent. And were every paflion equally 'entitled to gratification, inan would be utterly unqualified for society: he would be a ship without a rudder, obedient to every wind, and moving at randomn without any ultimate destination. The faculty of reason would make no opposition ; for were there no sense of wrong, it would be reasonable to gratify every desire that harms not ourselves : and to talk of punishment would be absurd; for punishment, in its very idea, implies fome wrong that ought to be redressed. Hence the necessity of the moral sense, to qualify us for society : by in
Itructing us in our duty, it renders us accountable for our conduct, and makes us fufceptible of rewards and punishments. The moral sense fulfils another valuable purpose : it erects in man an unerring standard for the application and measure of rewards and punishments.
To complete the fystem of rewards and punishments, it is necessary that a provision be made, both of power and of willingness to reward and punish, The author of our nature hath provided amply for the former, by entitling every man to reward and punish as his native privilege. And he has provided for the latter, by a noted principle in our nature, prompting us to exercise the power. Impelled by that principle, we reward the virtuous with approbation and esteem, and punish the vicious with disapprobation and contempt. And there is an additional motive for exercising that principle, which is, that we have great
satisfaction in rewarding, and no less in punishing.
As to punishment in particular, an action done intentionally to produce mifchief, is criminal, and merits punishment. Such an action, being disagree
able, raises my resentment, even where I have no connection with the person injured ; and the principle mentioned impells me to chastise the delinquent with indignation and hatred. An injury done to myself raises my resentment to a higher tone: I am not satisfied with so Night a punishment as indignation and hatred : the author must by my hand suffer mischief, as great as he has made me fuffer.
Even the most secret crime escapes not punishment. The delinquent is tortured with remorse: he even desires to be punished, sometimes so ardently as to punish himself *. There cannot be imagined
* Mr John Kello, minister of Spot in East Lothian, had an extraordinary talent for preaching, and was universally held a man of singular piety. His wife was handsome, chearful, tender-hearted, and in a word potreffed all the qualities that can endear a woman to her husband. A pious and richi widow in the neighbourhood tempted his avarice. She clung to him as a spiritual guide ; and but for his little wife, he had no doubt of obtaining her in marriage. He turned gradually peevish and difcontented. His change of behaviour made a deep impression on his wife, for she loved him dearly; and yet she was anxious to conceal her treatment from
a contrivance more effectual to deter one from vice, than remorse, which itself is a grievous punishment. Self-punishment goes still farther: every criminal, sensible that he ought to be punished, dreads punishment from others; and this dread,
the world. Her meekness, her fubmiffion, her patience, tended but to increase his fullenness. Upon a Sunday morning when on her knees she was of. fering up her devotions, he came softly behind her, put a rope about her neck, and hung her up to the ceiling. He bolted his gate, creeped out at a window, walked demurely to church, and charmed his hearers with a most pathetic fermon. After divine service, he invited two or three of his neighbours to pass the evening, at his house, telling them that his wife was indisposed, and of late inclined to melancholy; but that she would be glad to see them. It surprised them to find the gate bolted and none to answer : much more when, upon its being forc’d open, they found her in the posture mentioned. The husband seemed to be struck dumb; and counterfeited forrow so much to the life, that his guests, forgetting the deceased, were wholly interested about the living. His feign's tears however became real' : his soul was oppressed with the weight of his guilt. Finding no relief, from agonizing remorse and from the image of his murdered wife constantly haunting him, he about fix weeks after the horrid deed went to Edinburgh and delivered himself up to justice. He was condemned upon his own confefson, and executed 4th October 1570.
however" finothered during prosperity, breaks out in adversity, or in depression of mind : his crime stares him in the face, and every accidental misfortune is in his disturbed imagination interpreted to be a punishment : And they said one to an“ other, We are verily guilty concerning
our brother, in that we saw the anguish “ of his foul, when he befought us; and
we would not hear : therefore is this distress come upon us.
And Reuben “ answered them, saying, Spake I not
unto you, saying, Do not sin against “ the child; and ye would not hear? " therefore behold also his blood is required (a)" *
(a) Genesis, xlii. 21,
* John Duke of Britany, commonly termed the Good Duke, illustrious for generosity, clemency, and piety, "reigned forty-three years, wholly employ'd about the good of his subjects. He was succeeded by his eldest son Francis, a prince weak and fufpicious, and consequently liable to be mifled by favourites. Arthur of Montauban, in love with the wife of Gilles, brother to the Duke, persuaded the Duke that his brother was laying plots to dethrone him. Gilles being imprisoned, the Duke's best friends conjured him to pity his unhappy brother, who might be imprudent, but assuredly was innos