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But if it be goodness, there can be no possible hope, whilst the reason of things, or the ends of government, call for punishment. Thus, every one sees how much greater chance of impunity an ill man has, in a partial administration, than in a just and upright one. It is said, that "the interest, or good of the whole, must be the interest of the universal Being, and that He can have no other." Be it so. This author has proved, that vice is naturally the misery of mankind in this world. Consequently, it was for the good of the whole, that it should be so. What shadow of reason, then, is there to assert, that this may not be the case hereafter? Danger of future punishment, (and if there be danger, there is ground of fear) no more supposes malice than the present feeling of punishment does.
The sermon upon the character of Balaam, and that upon self-deceit, both relate to one subject. I am persuaded, that a very great part of the wickedness of the world, is, one way or other, owing to the self-partiality, self-flattery, and self-deceit endeavored there to be laid open and explained. It is to be observed amongst persons of the lower rank, in proportion to their compass of thought, as much as amongst men of education and improvement. It seems, that people are capable of being thus artful with themselves, in proportion as they are capable of being so with others. Those who have taken notice that there is really such a thing, namely, plain falseness and insincerity in men, with regard to themselves, will readily see the drift and design of these discourses and nothing that I can add will explain the design of them to him, who has not beforehand remarked at least somewhat of the character. And yet the admonitions they contain, may be as much wanted by such a person as by others; for it is to be noted, that a man may be entirely possessed by this unfairness of mind, without having the least speculative notion what the thing is.
The account given of resentment, in the eighth sermon,
is introductory to the following one, upon forgiveness of injuries. It may possibly have appeared to some, at first sight, a strange assertion, that injury is the only natural object of settled resentment; or that men do not, in fact, resent deliberately any thing but under this appearance of injury. But I must desire the reader not to take any assertion alone by itself, but to consider the whole of what is said upon it. Because this is necessary, not only in order to judge of the truth of it, but often, such is the nature of language, to see the very meaning of the assertion. Particularly, as to this, injury and injustice is, in the sermon itself, explained to mean, not only the more gross and shocking instances of wickedness, but also contempt, scorn, neglect, any sort of disagreeable behaviour towards a person, which he thinks other than what is due to him. And the general notion of injury, or wrong, plainly comprehends this, though the words are mostly confined to the higher degrees of it.
Forgiveness of injuries is one of the very few moral obligations which has been disputed. But the proof that it is really an obligation, what our nature and condition require, seems very obvious, were it only from the consideration, that revenge is doing harm merely for harm's sake. And as to the love of our enemies: Resentment cannot supersede the obligations to universal benevolence, unless they are in the nature of the thing inconsistent, which they plainly are not.
This divine precept, to forgive injuries and love our enemies, though to be met with in Gentile moralists, yet is in a peculiar sense a precept of Christianity; as our Saviour has insisted more upon it than upon any other single virtue. One reason of this doubtless is, that it so peculiarly becomes an imperfect, faulty creature. But - it may be observed also, that a virtuous temper of mind, consciousness of innocence, and good meaning towards every body, and a strong feeling of injustice and injury, may itself, such is the imperfection of our virtue, lead a person to violate this obligation, if he be not upon his
guard. And it may well be supposed, that this is another reason why it is so much insisted upon by him, who knew what was in man.
The chief design of the eleventh discourse, is to state the notion of self-love and disinterestedness, in order to show that benevolence is not more unfriendly to self-love, than any other particular affection whatever. There is a strange affectation in many people of explaining away all particular affections, and representing the whole of life as nothing but one continued exercise of self-love. Hence arises that surprising confusion and perplexity in the Epicureans of old, Hobbs, the author of Reflections, Sentences, et Maximes Morales, and this whole set of writers; the confusion of calling actions interested, which are done in contradiction to the most manifest known interest, merely for the gratification of a present passion. Now, all this confusion might easily be avoided, by stating to ourselves wherein the idea of self-love in general consists, as distinguished from all particular movements towards particular external objects; the appetites of sense, resentment, compassion, curiosity, ambition, and the rest. When this is done, if the words selfish and interested cannot be parted with, but must be applied to every thing; yet, to avoid such total confusion of all language, let the distinction be made by epithets; and the first may be called cool, or settled selfishness, and the other passionate, or sensual selfishness. But the most natural way of speaking plainly is, to call the first only, self-love, and the actions proceeding from it, inte
* One need only look into Torquatus's account of the Epicurean system, in Cicero's first book, De Finibus, to see in what a surprising manner this was done by them. Thus, the desire of praise, and of being beloved, he explains to be no other than desire of safety : Regard to our country, even in the most virtuous character, to be nothing but regard to ourselves. The author of Reflections, &c. Morales, says, "curiosity proceeds from interest, or pride; which pride also would doubtless have been explained to be self-love;" (Page 85. Ed. 1725)—as if there were no passions in mankind, as desire of esteem, or of being beloved, or of knowledge. Hobbs' account of the affections of good-will and pity, are instances of the same kind.
rested; and to say of the latter, that they are not love to ourselves, but movements towards somewhat external,honor, power, the harm, or good, of another. And that the pursuit of these external objects, so far as it proceeds from these movements (for it may proceed from self-love,) is no otherwise interested, than as every action. of every creature must, from the nature of the thing, be; for no one can act but from a desire, or choice, or preference of his own.
Self-love and any particular passion may be joined together; and from this complication, it becomes impossible, in numberless instances, to determine precisely how far an action, perhaps even of one's own, has for its principle general self-love, or some particular passion. But this need create no confusion in the ideas themselves of selflove and particular passions. We distinctly discern what one is, and what the other are; though we may be uncertain how far one or the other influences us. And though, from this uncertainty, it cannot but be, that there will be different opinions concerning mankind, as more or less governed by interest; and some will ascribe actions to self-love, which others will ascribe to particular passions; yet it is absurd to say, that mankind are wholly actuated by either; since it is manifest that both have their influence. For as, on the one hand, men form a general notion of interest, some placing it in one thing, and some in another, and have a considerable regard to it throughout the course of their life, which is owing to self-love; so, on the other hand, they are often set on work by the particular passions themselves, and a considerable part of life is spent in the actual gratification of them; i. e. is employed, not by self-love, but by the pas
Besides, the very idea of an interested pursuit, necessarily presupposes particular passions or appetites; since the very idea of interest, or happiness, consists in this, that an appetite, or affection, enjoys its object. It is not because we love ourselves that we find delight in such and such objects, but because we have particular affections
towards him. Take away these affections, and you leave self-love nothing at all to employ itself about; no end, or object, for it to pursue, excepting only that of avoiding pain. Indeed, the Epicureans, who maintained that absence of pain was the highest happiness, might, consistently with themselves, deny all affection, and, if they had so pleased, every sensual appetite too. But the very idea of interest, or happiness, other than absence of pain, implies particular appetites or passions; these being necessary to constitute that interest or happiness.
The observation, that benevolence is no more disinterested than any of the common particular passions, seems of itself worth being taken notice of; but is insisted upon to obviate that scorn, which one sees rising upon the faces of people, who are said to know the world, when mention is made of a disinterested, generous, or public spirited action. The truth of that observation might be made to appear in a more formal manner of proof: for, whoever will consider all the possible respects and relations which any particular affection can have to self-love and private interest, will, I think, see demonstrably, that benevolence is not in any respect more at variance with self-love, than any other particular affection whatever, but that it is, in every respect, at least as friendly to it.
If the observation be true, it follows, that self-love and benevolence, virtue and interest, are not to be opposed, but only to be distinguished from each other; in the same way as virtue and any other particular affection, love of arts, suppose, are to be distinguished. Every thing is what it is, and not another thing. The goodness, or badness of actions, does not arise from hence, that the epithet, interested, or disinterested, may be applied to them, any more than that any other indifferent epithet, suppose inquisitive or jealous, may, or may not, be applied to them; not from their being attended with present or future pleasure or pain, but from their being what they are; namely, what becomes such creatures as we are, what the state of the case requires, or the contrary. Or in other words, we may judge and determine that an ac