Imatges de pÓgina

it extends to, is very small, it is not so apt to be looked upon virtuous, or not so virtuous. As, a man's love to his own children........

And this is the reason why self love is by nobody mistaken for true virtue. For though there be something of the general nature of virtue in this, here is love and good will, yet the object is so private, the limits so narrow, that it by nơ means engrosses the view ; unless it be of the person himself, who, through the greatness of his pride, may imagine himself as it were all. The minds of men are large enough to take in a vastly greater extent; and though self love is far from being useless in the world, yea, it is exceeding necessary to society, besides its directly and greatly seeking the good of one, yet every body sees that if it be not subordinate to, and regulated by, another more extensive principle, it may make a man a common enemy to the system he is related to. And though this is as true of any other private affection, notwithstanding its extent may be to a system that contains thousands of individuals, and those private systems bear no greater proportion to the whole of universal existence, than one alone, yet they bear a greater proportion to the extent, to the view and comprehension of men's minds, and are more apt to be regarded as if they were all, or at least as some resemblance of the universal system.

Thus I have observed how many of these natural principles, which have been spoken of, resemble virtue in its primary operation, which is benevolence. Many of them also have a resemblance of it in its secondary operation, which is its approbation of and complacence in virtue itself. Several kinds of approbation of virtue have been taken notice of, as common to mankind, which are not of the nature of a truly virtuous approbation, consisting in a sense and relish of the essential beauty of virtue, consist ing in a Being's cordial union to Being in general, from a spirit of love to being in general. As particularly, the approbation of conscience, from a sense of the inferior and secondary beauty which there is in virtue, consisting in uniformity, and from a sense of desert, consisting in a sense of the natural agreement of loying and


being beloved, shewing kindness and receiving kindness. So from the same principle, there is a disapprobation of vice, from a natural opposition to deformity and disproportion, and a sense of evil desert, or the natural agreement there is between hating and being hated, opposing and being opposed, &c. together with a painful sensation naturally arising in a sense of self opposition and inconsistence. Approbation of conscience is the more readily mistaken for a truly virtuous approbation, because by the wise constitution of the great governor of the world (as was observed) when conscience is well informed, and thoroughly awakened, it agrees with the latter fully and exactly, as to the object approved, though not as to the ground and reason of approving. It approves all virtue, and condemns all vice. It approves true virtue, and indeed approves nothing that is against it, or that falls short of it; as was shewn before. And indeed natural conscience is implanted in all mankind, there to be as it were in God's stead, and to be an internal judge or rule to all, whereby to distin- i guish right and wrong.

It has also been observed, how that virtue, consisting in be, nevolence, is approved, and vice, consisting in ill will, is disliked, from the influence of self love, together with association of ideas, in the same manner as men dislike those qualities in things without life or reason, with which they have always connected the ideas of hurtfulness, malignancy, perniciousness; but like those things with which they habitually connect the ideas of profit, pleasantness, comfortableness, &c. This sort of approbation or liking of virtue, and dislike of vice, is easily mistaken for true virtue, not only because those things are approved by it that have the nature of virtue, and the things disliked have the nature of vice, but because here is much of resemblance of virtuous approbation, it being complacence from love ; the difference only lying in this, that it is not from love to Being in general, but from self love.

There is also, as has been shewn, a liking of some virtues, and dislike of some vices, from the influence of the natural instinct of pity. This, men are apt to mistake for the exercise

of true virtue, on many accounts. Here is not only a kind of complacence, and the objects of complacence are what have the nature of virtue, and the virtues indeed very amiable, such as hunianity, mercy, tenderness of heart, &c. and the contrary very odious ; but besides, the approbation is not merely from self love, but from compassion, an affection that respects others, and resembles benevolence, as has been shewn.

Another reason, why the things which have been mentioned are mistaken for true virtue, is, that there is indeed a true. negative moral goodness in them. By a negative moral goodness, I mean the negation or absence of true moral evil..... They have this negative moral goodness, because a being without them would be an evidence of a much greater moral evil. Thus, the exercise of natural conscience in such and such degrees, wherein appears such a measure of an awakening or sensibility of conscience, though it be not of the nature of real positive virtue or true moral goodness, yet has a negative moral goodness; because in the present state of things, it is an evilence of the absence of that higher degree of wickedness, which causes great insensibility or stupidity of conscience. For sin, as was observed, is not only against a spiritual and divine sense of virtue, but is also against the dictates of that moral sense which is in natural conscience. No wonder, that this sense being long opposed and often conquered, grows weaker. All sin has its source from selfishness, or from self love, not subordinate to regard to Being in general. And natural conscience chiefly consists in a sense of desert, or the natural agreement between sin and misery. But if self were indeed all, and so more considerable than all the world besides, there would be no ill desert in his regarding himself above all, and making all other interests give place to private interest. And no wonder that men by long acting from the selfish principle, and by being habituated to treat themselves as if they were all, increase in pride, and come as it were naturally to look on themselves as all, and so to lose entirely the sense of ill desert in their making all other inter, ests give place to their own.....And no wonder that men by

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often repeating acts of sin, without punishment, or any visible appearance of approaching punishment, have less and less sense of the connexion of sin with punishment. That sense which an awakened conscience has of the desert of sin, consists chiefly in a sense of its desert of resentment of the Deity, the fountain and head of universal existence. But no wonder that by a long continued worldly and sensual life, men more and more lose all sense of the Deity, who is a spiritual and invisible Being. The mind being long involved in, and engrossed by sensitive objects, becomes sensual in all its operations, and excludes all views and impressions of spiritual objects, and is unfit for their contemplation. Thus the conscience and general benevolence are entirely different principles, and sense of conscience differs from the holy complacence of a benevolent and truly virtuous heart. Yet wickedness may, by long habitual exercise, greatly diminish a sense of conscience. So that there may be negative moral goodness, in sensibility of conscience, as it may be an argument of the absence of that higher degree of wickedness, which causeth stupidity of conscience. So with respect to natural gratitude, though there

may virtue merely in loving them that love us, yet the contrary may be an evidence of a great degree of depravity, as it may argue a higher degree of selfishness, so that a man is come to look upon himself as all, and others as nothing, and so their respect and kindness as nothing. Thus an increase of pride diminishes gratitude.....So does sensuality, or the increase of sensual appetites, and coming more and more under the power and impression of sensible objects, tends by degrees to make the mind insensible to any thing else ; and those appetites take up the whole soul ; and through habit and custom the water is all drawn out of other channels, in which it naturally flows, and is all carried as it were into one channel.

In like manner natural affection and natural pity, though not of the nature of virtue, yet may be diminished greatly by the increase of those two principles of pride and sensuality, and as the consequence of this, being habitually disposed to envy, malice, &c. These lusts when they prevail to a high

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degree may overcome and diminish the exercise of those nat, aral principles : Even as they often overcome and diminish common prudence in a man, as to seeking his own private interest, in point of health, wealth or honor, and yet no one will think it proves that a man's being cunning, in sceking his own personal and temporal interest has any thing of the nature and essence of true virtue.

Another reason why these natural principles and affections are mistaken for true virtue, is, that in several respects they have the same effect which true virtue tends to; especially in these two ways....,

1. The present state of the world is so ordered and constituted by the wisdom and goodness of its supreme ruler, that these natural principles for the most part tend to the good of the world of mankind. So do natural pity, gratitude, parental affection, &c. Herein they agree with the tendency of general benevolence, which seeks and tends to the general good. But this is no proof that these natural principles have the pature of true virtue. For self love is a principle that is ex. ceeding useful and necessary in the world of mankind. So are the natural appetites of hunger and thirst, &c. But yet pobody will assert, that these have the nature of true virtue.

2. These principles have a like effect with true virtue in this respect, that they tend several ways to restrain vice, and prevent many acts of wickedness.

So, natural affection, love to our party, or to particular friends, tends to keep us from acts of injustice towards these persons ; which would be real wickedness. Pity preserves from cruelty, which would be real and great moral evil. Natural conscience tends to restrain sin in general, in the present state of the world. But neither can this

prove these principles themselves to be of the nature of true virtue. For so is this present state of mankind ordere ed by a merciful God, that men's self love does in innumerable respects restrain from acts of true wickedness; and not only so, but puts men upon seeking true virtue ; yet is not itself true virtue, but is the source of all the wickedness that is in the world,

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