Imatges de pÓgina


there is in such a natural agreement, of that spiritual cordial agreement, wherein original beauty consists, as one reason why he established such a law. But it is not any reflection upon, or preception of, such a resemblance of this to spirtual beauty, that is the reason why such a form or state of objects appears beautiful to men : But their sensation of pleasure, on a view of this secondary beauty is immediately owing to the law God has established, or the instinct he has given.

2. Another thing observable concerning this kind of beauty, is, that it affects the mind more other things being equal) then taken notice of in objects which are of considerable importance, than in little trivial matters. Thus, the symmetry of the parts of a human body, or countenancé, affects the mind more than the beauty of a Power. So, the beauty of the solar system, more than as great and as manifold an order and uniformity in a tree. And the proportions of the parts of a church, or a palace, more than the same proportions in some little slight compositions, made to please children.

3. It may be observed (which was binted before that not only uniformity and proportion, &c. of different things is requisite in order to this inferior beauty, but some relation or connexion of the things thus agreeing one with another. As, the uniformity or likeness of a number of pillars, scattered hither and thither, does not constitute beauty, or at least by no means in an equal degree as uniformity in pillars connected in the same building, in parts that have relation one to another. So, if we see things unlike, and very disproportioned, in distant places, which have no relation to each other, this excites no such idea of deformity, as disagreement and inequality or disproportion in things related and connected : And the nearer the relation, and the stricter the connexion, so much the greater and more disgustful is the deformity, consisting in their disagreement:

4. This secondary kind of beauty, consisting in uniformity and proportion, not only takes place in material and external things, but also in things immaterial ; and is, in very many things, plain and sensible in the latter, as well as the former : And when it is so, there is no reason why it should not be grateful to them that behold it, in these as well as the other, by virtue of the same sense, or the same determination of mind to be gratified with uniformity and proportion. If uniformity and proportion be the things that effect, and appear agreeable to, this sense of beauty, then why should not uniformity and proportion affect the same sense in immaterial things as well as material, if there be equal capacity of discerning it in both ? And indeed more in spiritual things (cæteris paribus) as these are more important than things merely external and material ?

This is not only reasonable to be supposed, but it is evident in fact, in numberless instances. There is a beauty of order in society, besides what consists in benevolence, or can be referred to it, which is of the secondary kind. As, when the different members of society have all their appointed office, place and station, according to their several capacities and talents, and every one keeps his place, and continues in his proper business. In this there is a beauty, not of a different kind from the regularity of a beautiful building, or piece of skilful architecture, where the strong pillars are set in their proper place, the pilasters in a place fit for them, the square pieces of marble in the pavement, in a place suitable for them, the pannels in the walls and partitions in their proper places, the cornices in places proper for them, &c. As the agreement of a variety in one common design, of the parts of a building, or complicated machine, is one instance of that regularity, which belongs to the secondary kind of beauty, so there is the same kind of beauty in immaterial things, in what is called quisdom, consisting in the united tendency of thoughts, ideas, and particular volitions, to one general purpose : Which is a distinct thing from the goodness of that general purpose, as being useful and benevolent.

So there is a beauty in the virtue called justice, which consists in the agreement of different things, that have relation to one another, in nature, manner and measure : And therefore is the very same sort of beauty with that uniformity and proportion, which is observable in those external and material things that are esteemed beauụful. There is a natural agree



ment and adaptedness of things that have relation one to an. other, and an harmonious corresponding of one thing to another : That he which from his will does evil to others, should receive evil from the will of others, or from the will of him or them whose business it is to take care of the injured, and to act in their behalf: And that he should suffer evil in proportion to the evil of his doings. Things are in natural regularity and mutual agreement, not in a metaphorical but literal sense, when he whose heart opposes the general system, should have the hearts of that system, or the heart of the head and ruler of the system, against him : And that in consequence, he should receive evil in proportion to the cvil tendency of the opposition of his heart.....So, there is a like agreement in nature and measure, when he that loves, has the proper returns of love ; when he that from his heart promotes the good of another, has his good promoted by the other; as there is a kind of justice in a becoming gratitude.

Indeed most of the duties incumbent on us, if well considered, will be found to partake of the nature of justice. There is some natural agreement of one thing to another ; some adaptedness of the agent to the object ; some answerabieness of the act to the occasion ; some equality and proportion in things of a similar nature, and of a direct relation one to another. So it is in relative duties; duties of children to parents, and of parents to children ; duties of husbands and wives ; duties of rulers and subjects ; duties of friendship and good neighborhood : And all duties that we owe to God, our Creator, preserver, and benefactor ; and all duties whatsoever, considered as required by God, and as branches of our duty to him, and also considered as what are to be performed with a regard to Christ, as acts of obedience to his precepts, and as testimonies of respect to him, and of our regard to what he has done for us, the virtues and temper of mind he has exercised towards us, and the benefits we have or hope for therefrom.

It is this secondary kind of beauty, which belongs to the virtues and duties required of us, that Mr. Wollaston seems to have had in his eye, when he resolved all virtue into an agree



[ocr errors]

ment of inclinations, volitions and actions with truth. He evidently has respect to the justice there is in the virtues and duties that are proper to be in one Being towards another ; which consists in one Being's expressing such affections and using such a conduct towards another, as hath a natural agreement and proportion to what is in them, and what we receive from them ; which is as much a natural conformity of affection and action with its ground, object and occasion, as that which is between a true proposition and the thing spoken of in it.

But there is another and higher beauty in true virtue, and in all truly virtuous dispositions and exercises, than what consists in any uniformity or similarity of various things, viz. the union of heart to Being in general, or to God the Being of Bes ings, which appears in those virtues ; and which those virtues, when true, are the various expressions or effects of..... Benevolence to Being in general, or to Being simply considered, is entirely a distinct thing from uniformity in the midst of variety, and is a superior kind of beauty.

It is true, that benevolence to Being in general, when a person hath it, will naturally incline him to justice, or proportion in the exercises of it. He that loves Being, simply considered, will naturally (as was observed before) other things being equal, love particular Beings, in a proportion compounded of the degree of Being, and the degree of virtue or benevolence to Being, which they have. And that is to love Beings in proportion to their dignity. For the dignity of any Being consists in those two things. Respect to Being, in this proportion, is the first and most general kind of justice ; which will produce all the subordinate kinds. So that, after benevolence to Being in general exists, the proportion which is observed in objects, may be the cause of the proportion of benevolence to those objects : But no proportion is the cause or ground of the existence of such a thing as benevolence to Being. The tendency of objects to excite that degree of benevolence, which is proportionable to the degree of Being, &c. is the consequence of the existence of benevolence ; and not the ground of it. Even as a tendency of bodies, one to another, by mutual attraction, in proportion to the quantity of


matter, is the consequence of the Being of such a thing as mutual attraction ; and not attraction the effect of proportion.

By this it appears, that just affections and acts have a beauty in them, distinct from, and superior to, the uniformity and equality there is in them ; for which, he that has a truly vir. tuous temper, relishes and delights in them. And that is the expression and manifestation there is in them of benevolence to Being in general....... And besides this, there is the agree. ment of justie” to the will and command of God ; and also something in the tendency and consequences of justice, that is agreeable to general benevolence, viz. as in many respects It tends to the glory of God, and the general good. Which tendency also makes it beautiful to a truly virtuous mind. So that the tendency of general benevolence to produce justice, also the tendency of justice to produce effects agreeable to general benevolence, both render justice pleasing to a virtųous mind. And it is on these accounts chiefly, that justice is grateful to a virtuous taste, or a truly benevolent heart. But, though it be true, there is that in the uniformity and proportion there is in justice, which is grateful to a benevolent heart, as this uniformity and proportion tends to the general goods get that is no argument, that there is no other beauty in it but its agreeing with benevolence. For so the external regularity and order of the natural world gratifies benevolence, as it is profitable, and tends to the general good ; but that is no argument, that there is no other sort of beauty in external uniformity and proportion, but only its suiting benevolence by tending to the general good.

5. From all that has been observed concerning this secondary kind of beauty, it appears that that disposition or sense of the mind, which consists in determination of mind to approve and be pleased with this beauty, considered simply and by itself, has nothing of the nature of true virtue, and is entirely a different thing from a truly virtuous taste. For it has been shewn, that this kind of beauty is entirely diverse from the beauty of true virtue, whether it takes place in material or immaterial things. And therefore it will follow, that a taste of this kind of beauty is entirely a different thing from a taste

« AnteriorContinua »