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for fociety; and we have seen (a), that universal benevolence, were it a duty,
, would contribute to the general good perhaps less than absolute selfishness. Man is too limited in capacity and in power
for universal benevolence. Even the greatest monarch has not power to exercise his benevolence, but within a very narrow sphere ; and if so, how unfit would such a duty be for private persons, who have very little power ? Serving only to distress them by inability of performance, they would endeavour to fmother it altogether, and give full scope to selfishness. Man is much better qualified for doing good, by a constitution in which benevolence is duly blended with self-love. Benevolence as a duty, takes place of selflove ; a regulation essential to fociety: benevolence as a virtue, not a duty, gives place to felf-love ; because as every man has more power, knowledge, and opportunity, to promote his own good than that of others, a greater quantity of good is produced, than if benevolence were our only principle of action. This holds, even supposing no harm done to any per
(a) Sect. 4.
fon : much more would it hold, were we permitted to hurt some, in order to produce more good to others.
The foregoing final causes respect morality in general. We now proceed to particulars; and the first and most important is the law of restraint. Man is evidently framed for society: and as there can be no society among creatures whơ prey upon each other, it was necessary to provide against mutual injuries; which is effectually done by this law. Its necessity with respect to personal security is felf-evident; and with respect to property, its necessity will appear from what follows. In the nature of every man there is a propensity to hoard or store up things useful to himself and family. But this natural propensity would be rendered ineffectual, were he not secured in the poffession of what he thus stores up; for no man will toil to accumulate what he cannot fecurely possess. This fecurity is afforded by the moral fenfe, which dictates, that the first occupant of goods provided by nature for the fubfiftence of man, ought to be protected in the possession, and that such goods ought to be inviolably his pro
perty. Thus, by the great law of restraint, men have a protection for their goods, as well as for their persons; and are no less fecure in society, than if they were separated from each other by impregnable walls.
Several other duties are little less eflential than that of restraint, to the existence of society. Mutual trust and confidence, without which fociety would be an uncomfortable state, enter into the character of the human species; to which the duties of veracity and fidelity correspond. The final cause of these corresponding duties is obvious : the latter would be of no use in society without the former; and the former, without the latter, would be hurtful by laying men open to fraud and deceit.
With respect to veracity in particular, man is so constituted, that he must be indebted to information for the knowledge of most things that benefit or hurt him ; and if he could not depend upon information, society would be very little beneficial. Further, it is wisely ordered, that we should be bound by the moral sense to speak truth, even where we perceive no
harm in transgressing that duty ; because it is sufficient that harm may ensue, tho’ not foreseen. At the fame 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 feparation, 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 self-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; 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 fuit 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 juftlyfounded 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 assistance in time of need.