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tention, which may be very small, but that which belongs to the common nature of the species. The final cause of that regulation will appear upon considering, that were reparation to depend upon perfonal circumstances, there would be a necessity of enquiring into the character of individuals, their education, their manner of living, and the extent of their understanding; which would render judges arbitrary, and such law-suits inextricable. But by assuming the common nature of the species as a standard, by which every man in conscience judges of his own actions, law-suits about reparation are rendered easy and expeditious.
Liberty and Neceflity considered with respect
HAving in the foregoing sections afcer
tained the reality of a moral sense, with its sentiments of approbation and dis
approbation, approbation, praise and blame; the
purpose of the present section is, to shew, that these sentiments are consistent with the laws that govern the actions of man as a rational being. In order to which, it is first necessary to explain these laws; for
; there has been much controverfy about them, especially among divines of the Arminian and Calvinist fects.
Human actions, as laid down in the first section, are of three kinds : one, where we act by instinct, without any view to consequences ; one, where we act by will in order to produce fome effect; and one, where we act against will. With respect to the first, the agent acts blindly, without deliberation or choice; and the external act follows necessarily from the instinctive impulse *
* A stonechatter makes its neft on the ground or near it; and the young, as soon as they can shift for themselves, leave the nest instinctively. An egg of that bird was laid in a swallow's nest, fixed to the roof of a church. The swallow fed all the young cqually, without distinction. The young stonechatter left the neft at the usual time before it could fly; and falling to the ground, it was taken up dead. Here is iftinct in purity, exerting itself
Actions done with a view to an end, are in a very different condition : into these, defire, and will, enter : desire to accomplish the end goes first; the will to act in order to accomplish the end, is next;
and the external act follows of course. It is the will then that governs every
external act done as a mean to an end ; and it is desire to accomplish the end that
the will in motion ; desire in this view being commonly termed the motive to act. Thus, hearing that my friend is in the hands of robbers, I burn with desire to free him : desire influences my will to arm my fervants, and to fly to his relief. Actions done against will come in afterward.
But what is it that raises desire? The answer is ready : it is the prospect of attaining some agreeable end, or of avoiding one that is disagreeable. And if it be enquired, What makes an object agreeable or disagreeable ; the answer is equalblindly without regard to variation of circumstances. The same is observable in our dunghill-fowl. They feed on worms, corn, and other seeds dropt on the ground. In order to discover their food, nature has provided them with an instinct to fçrape with the foot; and the instinct is so regularly exercised, that they scrape even when they are set upon a heap
ly ready, that our nature inakes it fo. Certain visible objects are agreeable, certain sounds, and certain smells : other objects of these senses are disagreeable. But there we must stop; for we are far from being so intimately acquainted with our own nature as to afsign the causes. These hints are sufficient for my present purpose: if one be curious to know more, the theory of desire, and of agreeableness and disagreeableness, will be found in Elements of Criticism (a).
With respect to instinctive actions, no person, I presume, thinks that there is any freedom : an infant applies to the nipple, and a bird builds a neft, no less necessarily than a stone falls to the ground. With respect to voluntary actions, done in order to produce some effect, the necessity is the same, tho' less apparent at first view. Thé external action is determined by the will: the will is determined by desire: and defire by what is agreeable or disagreeable. Here is a chain of causes and effects, not one link of which is arbitrary, or under command of the agent: he cannot will but according to his desire: he cannot desire but (a) Chap. 2.
according to what is agreeable or disagreeable in the objects perceived : nor do these qualities depend on his inclination or fancy; he has no power to make a beautiful woman ugly, nor to make a rotten carcase smell sweetly.
Many good men apprehending danger to morality from holding our actions to be necessary, endeavour to break the chain of causes and effects above mentioned, maintaining, « That whatever influence “ desire or motives may have, it is the agent
himself who is the cause of every action
; that desire may advife, but cannot command ; and therefore that a man is still free to act in contradiction
to desire and to the strongest motives.” That a being may exist, which in every case acts blindly and arbitrarily, without having any end in view, I can make a shift to conceive : but it is difficult for me even to imagine a thinking and rational being, that has affections and passions, that has a desirable end in view, that can easily accomplish this end; and yet, after all, can fly off, or remain at rest, without any cause, reason, or motive, to sway it. If such a whimsical being can poslibly ex