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implying any great originality. The general tendency of his remarks, both upon Mandeville and Shaftesbury, may be described as utilitarian. Although, as already noticed, he seems to be incapable of detecting the economical fallacy involved in Mandeville's eulogy upon extravagance, he, of course, sees, and has no difficulty in proving, that vice is prejudicial to a community. He establishes with rather superfluous care that immorality of all kinds is ruinous to the constitution of individuals, and destructive to a state. Virtue is not a mere fashion, but implies obedience to the laws upon which men's physical and spiritual health depends. Shaftesbury is condemned on the same grounds. Admitting Shaftesbury's leading principle of the beauty of virtue, Berkeley argues that our sense of beauty consists essentially in our perception of the right adaptation of means to ends. The beauty of the universe consists, therefore, in the existence of an intelligent principle, governing all things, punishing the wicked, protecting the virtuous. «In such a system, vice is madness, cunning is folly, wisdom and virtue all the same thing ;') and whatever seems amiss, will, in the last act, be ultinately wound up according to the strictest rules of wisdom and justice. Shaftesbury's ruling mind must, therefore, be either the Christian Deity, or another name for blind Fate. In the latter case, a man must be a 'Stoic or a Knighterrant'l to be virtuous; the 'minute philosopher' is the devotee of 'an inexplicable enthusiastic notion of moral beauty,'? or, as Lysicles, the representative of Mandeville, puts it, his doctrine 'hath all the solid inconveniences, without the amusing hopes and prospects, of the Christian.' 3
46. John Brown, better known as the author of the Estimate,' was a writer of genuine ability. His style is clear, and he is free from the coarse abuse and the cavilling at petty details, which are the prevailing faults of controversialists of the time. His essays, directed against a writer who had been nearly forty years dead, may be regarded as some testimony to the enduring influence of Shaftesbury; but they are, perhaps, rather an indication that poor Brown, who had a hard struggle to win fame and some solid rewards, was looking out for a good text for the display of his talents than anxious to encounter a vital error. The immediate suggestion came from Warburton, who had been told by Pope that the 'Characteristics’ had to his knowledge done more harm to revealed religion in England than all other infidel books. The essays are three in number. In the first, directed against Shaftesbury's theory of ridicule as the test of truth, which had been attacked by Warburton, and supported by Akenside, he establishes without much trouble the obvious truism that raillery is not argument. In the last, he puts the ordinary arguments against Shaftesbury's sneers at revelation. The second considers the moral theory of Shaftesbury, and more briefly that of Mandeville. The argument depends on the utilitarian principle, which he had probably learnt from Hume, though he only refers to him as 'a late writer of subtlety and refinement,' in order to controvert his view of the existence of purely benevolent affections. Brown, in substance, anticipates Paley, and insists in the same spirit upon the necessity of some effective sanction to the moral law. Where selfish or malevolent affections happen to prevail, there can be no internal motive for virtue,'? and, therefore, we cannot do without a hell. He separates very clearly the question of the criterion from that of the sanction; and he points to the fundamental weakness which is common to the intellectual and to the moral sense school, whose opposition he accordingly regards as a mere logomachy, of setting up no really intelligible standard of virtue. That standard he discovers in the tendency of all good actions to promote happiness. Virtue is the voluntary production of the greatest possible happiness.' 3 Thus he tries to supplant Shaftesbury's vague declamation and Clarke's nugatory metaphysics by a fixed and intelligible standard. In fact, the criticism strikes at Shaftesbury's fundamental weakness. He had no more escaped than the intellectual school from the dilemma produced by identifying God with nature, or rather his escape was palpably a mere evasion. He makes nature divine by denying the most patent facts; and is obliged to introduce a kind of tacit Manichæism, by calling the evil passions, when he condescends Dial, ii. 163.
1 Dial. iii. sec. 10.
2 Ib. sec. 12.
3 Ib. sec. 7. * Mr. Mill, in his essay on Bentham, refers with very high praise to this performance of Brown.
to speak of them, “unnatural.' But if there are unnatural things in nature, what becomes of his optimism ? Brown's utilitarianism provides a practical rule, though, of course, it does not attempt to answer the problem of the existence of evil. The clearness of his exposition is remarkable, but I may postpone the consideration of the development of his theory in other hands till I have followed the series of writers who may be considered as embodying Shaftesbury's impulse.
IV. THE COMMON-SENSE SCHOOL.
47. The greatest of these, and, with the exception of Hume, the acutest moralist of the century, is Butler, and the characteristic doctrine of Butler is another mode of solving the difficulty just noticed. No two men can present a greater contrast than exists in some respects between Butler and Shaftesbury; the contemplative nature shrinking from the rude contact of the world ; and the polished 'virtuoso;' the man to whom life is a weary burden, lightened only by hopes of a future happiness, and yet rendered heavier by the dread of future misery; and the man who is so resolute an optimist as almost to deny the existence of evil-are at opposite poles of feeling ; and yet their intellectual relation is close and unmistakable, as, indeed, is explicitly admitted by Butler.
48. Butler's sermons, published in 1726, repose fundamentally upon a conception identical with that which was afterwards expounded in the 'Analogy. The whole theory may be regarded as a modification from a theological point of view of Shaftesbury's doctrines. The fifteenth sermon, for example, on the ignorance of man,' contains the germ of the ‘Analogy ;'and the germ of the fifteenth sermon is to be found in Shaftesbury's conception of the universe as embodying a partially understood 'frame of things.'' Shaftesbury's optimism is, indeed, radically opposed to Butler's melancholy temper. The world, regarded as the ante-room to heaven and hell, is no longer that harmonious whole which excited Shaftesbury's facile artistic enthusiasm. Butler-and it is the great secret of his power—is always depressed by the
See, for example, "Moralists,' part iii. sec. I.
heavy burden of human misery and corruption. The horror of sin and death weighs upon his spirits. Our wisest course in life is to endeavour chiefly to escape misery.'' Mitigation of sorrow, rather than actual happiness, is all that can be hoped by his sorely tried soul. Hence nature, the deity of Shaftesbury, is invested by him with the terrible attributes of a judging and avenging God. To prove that the existence of such a God may be inferred from the facts of the universe, is the purpose of the 'Analogy. To prove the same doctrine from the facts of human nature is the purpose of the Sermons. Nature, as interpreted by Shaftesbury or by Clarke, is too impartial a deity to satisfy his conceptions. It is the cause of evil as well as of good. A beast, drawn to his destruction by a bait, acts ‘naturally,' because he gratifies his ruling appetite ; a man, drawn to destruction by his ruling appetite, might seem to be in the same case. But since such an action is utterly disproportionate to the nature of man, it is, in the strictest and most proper sense, unnatural ; this word expressing that disproportion.'? Whence this difference in our judgments ? Why condemn a Catiline and not condemn a tiger ? Shaftesbury's vague declamation gave, it seemed, no sufficient reply. The a priori mode of reasoning, though Butler, with characteristic caution, admits its validity, was not so applicable to the men whom he desired to meet. His special method consists in inferring from nature a Creator distinguished, so to speak, by personal idiosyncrasies. He has to show that the God who made alike the good and the bad instincts, takes part with the good and not with the bad ; and, moreover, he has to show this from the inspection of the instincts themselves. Nature is to testify to a special design, not to an impartial and abstract reflection of itself. This is the problem ever present to Butler's mind, and his answer to it is the essence of his writings.
49. We have seen how this was done in the 'Analogy.' In the Sermons, the starting-point is identical. The independent system of morality supplied the external point of view from which Butler discovered the character of this life as a probationary state. In the Sermons, the instincts which Butler's Works, ii. 82, sermon vi.
3 Ib. preface, p. vii. 3 Ib. p. 28, sermon ii.
enable us to recognise this moral law enable him to solve the problem of human nature. Shaftesbury's moral sense becomes with him the conscience—the conscience being no longer an æsthetic perception of the harmony of the universe, but rather the sense of shame which makes our mortal nature “tremble like a guilty thing surprised' in the presence of its Creator. The weakness which he indicates in Shaftesbury's teaching is the absence of a due recognition of the authoritative character of conscience. For conscience is God's viceroy ; our nature means 'the voice of God within us.' 2 To stifle its commands is mere usurpation. He compares human nature to a civil constitution, in which conscience plays the part of sovereign. And thus we discover the true meaning of the ancient phrase of acting in conformity to nature. That formula might be taken to mean acting from any natural impulse, in which case, the same action would at once obey and contradict nature; or it might mean obeying our strongest passions ; which, as Butler says with characteristic pessimism, 'being vicious ones, mankind is in this sense naturally vicious.'5 As these two meanings fail to reveal a moral law, we must take refuge in a third ; namely, that to act according to nature is to obey that power which has a natural supremacy. The conscience, enthroned within our souls, passes an authoritative judgment upon our actions ; declares which are right and which wrong ; approves or condemns the other, and anticipates 'a higher and more effectual sentence. It is by this ‘faculty natural to man, that he is a moral agent, that he is a law to himself; by this faculty, I say, not to be considered merely as a principle in his heart, which is to have some influence as well as others; but considered as a faculty in kind and in nature supreme over all others, and which bears its own authority of being so.' 6 'Had it strength, as it has right,' he says of the conscience; 'had it power, as it has manifest authority, it would absolutely govern the world.'? This is Butler's most characteristic doctrine. The constitution of man, like the constitution of his dwelling-place, points unmis
i Butler's Works, ii. preface, p. xiv.
5 Ib. ii. 25, sermon ii.