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must not do ill to bring about good; the final cause of which shall be given below*.
Principles of Duty and of Benevolence.
Aving thus shortly delineated the moral
laws of our nature, we proceed to an article of
great importance, which is, to inquire into the means provided by our Maker for compelling obedience to these laws. The moral sense is an unerring guide ; but the most expert guide will not profit those who are not disposed to be led. This consideration makes it evident, that to complete the moral system, man ought to be endued with some principle or propensity some impulsive power, to enforce obedience to the laws dictated by the moral sense.
The Author of our nature leaves none of his works imperfect. In order to render use obsequious to the moral sense as our guide, he hath implanted in our nature the principles of duty, of benevolence, of rewards and punishments, and of reparation. It may possibly be thought, that rewards and punishments, of which afterward, are sufficient of themselves to enforce the laws of nature, without necessity of any other principle.
Human laws, it is true, are enforced by these means; because no higher sanction is under com. mand of a terrestrial legislator. But the celestial Legislator, with power that knows no control, and benevolence that knows no bounds, hath enforced his laws by means no lesss remarkable for mildness than for efficacy: he employs no external compulsion; but, in order to engage our will on the right side, hath in the breast of individuals established the principles of duty and of benevolence, which efficaciously excite them to obey the dictates of the moral sense.
The restraining and active duties being both of them essential to society, our Maker has wisely ordered, that the principle which enforces these duties, should be the most cogent of all that belong to our nature. Other principles may solicit, allure, or terrify; but the principle of duty assumes authority, commands, and insists to be obeyed, without giving ear to any opposing motive.
As one great purpose of society, is to furnish opportunities of mutual aid and support; nature seconding that purpose, hath provided the principle of benevolence, which excites us to be kindly, beneficent, and generous. Nor ought it to escape observation, that the Author of nature, attentive to our wants and to our well-being, hath endued us with a liberal portion of that principle. It excites us to be kind, not only to those we are con-. nected with, but to our neighbours, and even sto
those we are barely acquainted with. Providence is peculiarly attentive to objects in distress, who require immediate aid and relief. To the principle of benevolence, it hath superadded the passion of pity, which in every feeling heart is irresistible. To make benevolence more extensive, would be fruitless; because here are objects in plenty to fill the most capacious mind. It would not be fruitless only, but hurtful to society : I say hurtful; because frequent dissapointments in attempting to gratify our benevolence, would render it a troublesome guest, and make us cling rather to selfishness, which we can always gratify. At the same time, though there is not room for a more extensive list of particular objects, yet the faculty we have of uniting numberless individuals into one complex object, enlarges greatly the sphere of benevolence. By that faculty, our country, our government, our religion, become objects of public spirit, and of a lively affection.
The individuals that compose the group, considered apart, may be too minute, or too distant, for our benevolence : but when united into one whole, accumulation makes them great, greatness makes them conspicuous; and affection, preserveď entire and undivided, is bestowed upon an abstract object, as upon one that is single and visible; but with energy proportioned to its greater dignity and importance. Thus the principle of benevolence is not too sparingly scattered among It is indeed made subordinate to self-inte
rest, which is wisely ordered, as will afterwards be 'made evident *: but its power and extent are nicely proportioned to the limited capacity of man, and to his situation in this world; so as better to fulfil its destination, than if it were an overmatch for self-interest, and for every other principle.
Laws respecting Rewards and Punishments.
REFLECTING on the moral branch of our na
ture qualifying us for society in a manner suited to our capacity, we cannot overlook the hand of our Maker; for means so finely adjusted to an important end, never happen by chance. It must however be acknowledged, that in many individuals, the principle of duty has not vigour nor authority sufficient to stem every tide of unruly passion : by the vigilance of some passions, we are taken unguarded; deluded by the sly insinuations of others; or overwhelmed by the stormy impetuosity of a third sort. Moral evil is thus in. troduced, and much wrong is done. This new scene suggests to us, that there must be some article sill wanting to complete the moral system; some means for redressing such wrongs, and for
preventing the reiteration of them. To accomplish these important ends, there are added to the moral system, laws relative to rewards and punishments, and to reparation; of which in their order.
Many animals are qualified for society by instinct merely ; such as beavers, sheep, monkeys, bees, rooks. But men are seldom led by instinct : their actions are commonly prompted by passions ; of which there is an endless variety, social and selfish, benevolent and malevolent. And were every passion equally entitled to gratification, man would be utterly unqualified for society: he would be a ship without a rudder, obedient to every wind, and moving at random without any ultimate destination. The faculty of reason would make no opposition ; for were there no sense of wrong, it would be reasonable to gratify every desire that harms not ourselves : and to talk of punishment would be absurd; for punishment, in its very idea,
implies some wrong that ought to be redressed. . Hence the necessity of the moral sense, to qualify
us for society : by instructing us in our duty, it renders us accountable for our conduct, and makes us susceptible of rewards and punishments. The moral sense fulfils another valuable purpose : it erects in man an unerring standard for the application and measure of rewards and punishments