« PreviousContinue »
mankind have fitted their notions and words to the use of common life, and not to the truth and extent of things. For it is certain, that in reality the relation is the same betwixt the begetter and the begotten in the several races of other animals as well as men : but yet it is seldom said, this bull is the grandfather of such a calf; or that two pigeons are cousinsgerman. It is very convenient, that by distinct names these relations should be observed, and marked out in mankind; there being occasion, both in laws and other communications one with another, to mention and take notice of men under these relations : from whence also arise the obligations of several duties amongst men. Whereas in brutes, men having very little or no cause to mind these relations, they have not thought fit to give them distinct and peculiar names. This, by the
way, may give us some light into the different state and growth of languages, which, being suited only to the convenience of communication, are proportioned to the notions men have, and the commerce of thoughts familiar amongst them; and not to the reality or extent of things, nor to the various respects might be found among them, nor the different abstract considerations might be framed about them. Where they had no philosophical notions, there they had no terms to express them: and it is no wonder men should have framed no names for those things they found no occasion to discourse of. From whence it is easy to imagine why, as in some countries, they may have not so much as the name for a horse ; and in others, where they are more careful of the pedigrees of their horses than of their own, that there they may have not only names for particular horses, but also of their several relations of kindred one to another.
$ 3. Thirdly, Sometimes the founda- Instituted. tion of considering things, with reference to one another, is some act whereby any one comes by a moral right, power, or obligation, to do something. Thus a general is one that hath power to command an army; and an army under a general is a collection of armed men obliged to obey one man. A citizen, or a burgher, is one who has a right to cer. tain privileges in this or that place. All this sort depending upon men's wills, or agreement in society, I call instituted or voluntary; and may be distinguished from the natural, in that they are most, if not all of them, some way or other alterable and separable from the persons to whom they have sometimes belonged, though neither of the substances, so related, be destroyed. Now, though these are all reciprocal as well as the rest, and contain in them a reference of two things one to the other : yet, because one of the two things often wants a relative name, importing that reference, men usually take no notice of it, and the relation is commonly overlooked : v. g. a patron and client are easily allowed to be relations, but a constable or dictator are not so readily, at first hearing, considered as such; because there is no peculiar name for those who are under the command of a dictator or constable, expressing a relation to either of them; though it be certain that either of them hath a certain power over some others; and so is so far related to them, as well as a patron is to his client, or general Moral.
§ 4. Fourthly, There is another sort of
relation, which is the conformity or disagreement men's voluntary actions have to a rule to which they are referred, and by which they are judged of; which, I think, may be called moral relation, as being that which denominates our moral actions, and deserves well to be examined ; there being no part of knowledge wherein we should be more careful to get determined ideas, and avoid, as much as may be, obscurity and confusion. Human actions, when with their various ends, objects, manners, and circumstances, they are framed into distinct complex ideas, are, as has been shown, so many mixed modes, a great part whereof have names annexed to them. Thus, sup
to his army.
posing gratitude to be a readiness to acknowledge and return kindness received, polygamy to be the having more wives than one at once; when we frame these notions thus in our minds, we have there so many determined ideas of mixed modes. But this is not all that concerns our actions; it is not enough to have determined ideas of them, and to know what names belong to such and such combinations of ideas. We have a farther and greater concernment, and that is, to know whether such actions so made up are morally good or bad.
S 5. Good and evil, as hath been shown, b. ii. chap. 20. § 2. and chap. 21. § 42. and evil. are nothing but pleasure or pain, or that which occasions or procures pleasure or pain to us. Moral good and evil then is only the conformity or disagreement of our voluntary actions to some law, whereby good or evil is drawn on us by the will and power of the law-maker; which good and evil, pleasure or pain, attending our observance or breach of the law, by the decree of the law-maker, is that we call reward and punishment. $ 6. Of these moral rules or laws, to
Moral rules. which men generally refer, and by which they judge of the rectitude or pravity of their actions, there seem to me to be three sorts, with their three different enforcements, or rewards and punishments. For since it would be utterly in vain to suppose a rule set to the free actions of men, without annexing to it some enforcement of good and evil to determine his will, we must, wherever we suppose a law, suppose also some reward or punishment annexed to that law. It would be in vain for one intelligent being to set a rule to the actions of another, if he had it not in his power to reward the compliance with, and punish deviation from his rule, by some good and evil that is not the natural product and consequence of the action itself. For that being a natural convenience, or inconvenience, would operate of itself without a law.
the measure of sin and
This, if I mistake not, is the true nature of all law, properly so called. Laws.
$ 7. The laws that men generally refer
their actions to, to judge of their rectitude or obliquity, seem to me to be these three. 1. The divine law. 2. The civil law. 3. The law of opinion or reputation, if I may so call it. By the relation they bear to the first of these, men judge whether their actions are sins or duties ; by the second, whether they be criminal or innocent; and by the third, whether they be virtues or vices. Divine law,
$ 8. First, the divine law, whereby I mean that law which God has set to the
actions of men, whether promulgated to duty.
them by the light of nature, or the voice of revelation. That God has given a rule whereby men should govern themselves, I think there is nobody so brutish as to deny. He has a right to do it; we are his creatures : he has goodness and wisdom to direct our actions to that which is best; and he has power to enforce it by rewards and punishments, of infinite weight and duration, in another life; for nobody can take us out of his hands. This is the only true touchstone of moral rectitude; and by comparing them to this law it is that men judge of the most considerable moral good or evil of their actions: that is, whether as duties or sins, they are like to procure them happiness or misery from the hands of the Almighty. Civil law,
$ 9. Secondly, the civil law, the rule the measure
set by the commonwealth to the actions of crimes of those who belong to it, is another rule and inno- to which men refer their actions, to judge
whether they be criminal or no. This law nobody overlooks, the rewards and punishments that enforce it being ready at hand, and suitable to the power that makes it; which is the force of the commonwealth, engaged to protect the lives, liberties, and possessions of those who live according to its law; and has power to take away life, liberty, or goods from him who disobeys: which is the punishment of offences committed against this law. $ 10. Thirdly, the law of opinion or
Philosophie reputation. Virtue and vice are names cal law the pretended and supposed every where to measure of stand for actions in their own nature virtue and
vice. right and wrong; and as far as they really are so applied, they so far are coincident with the divine law above-mentioned. But yet whatever is pretended, this is visible, that these names virtue and viče, in the particular instances of their application, through the several nations and societies of men in the world, are constantly attributed only to such actions as in each country and society are in reputation or discredit. Nor is it to be thought strange that men every where should give the name of virtue to those actions which amongst them are judged praiseworthy; and call that vice which they account blamable: since otherwise they would condemn themselves, if they should think any thing right, to which they allowed not commendation; any thing wrong, which they let pass without blame. Thus the measure of what is every where called and esteemed virtue and vice is the approbation or dislike, praise or blame, which by a secret and tacit consent establishes itself in the several societies, tribes, and clubs of men in the world; whereby several actions come to find credit or disgrace amongst them, according to the judgment, maxims, or fashion of that place. For though men uniting into politic societies have resigned up to the public the disposing of all their force, so that they cannot employ it against any fellow-citizens any farther than the law of the country directs; yet they retain still the power of thinking well or ill, approving or disapproving of the actions of those whom they live amongst and converse with: and by this approbation and dislike they establish amongst themselves what they will call virtue and vice.
$ 11. That this is the common measure of virtue