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lerable manner, were full scope given to rashness and negligence, and to every action that strictly speaking is not criminal ; whence it is a maxim, founded no less upon utility than upon justice, That men in society ought to be extremely circumspect, as to every action that may possibly do harm. On the other hand, it is also a maxim, That as the prosperity and happiness of man depend on action, activity ought to be encouraged, instead of being discouraged by dread of consequences.

These maxims, seemingly in opposition, have natural limits that prevent their encroaching one upon the other. There is a certain degree of attention and circumspection that men generally bestow upon affairs, proportioned to their importance : if that degree were not sufficient to defend against a claim of reparation, individuals would be too much cramped in action; which would be a great discouragement to activity: if a less degree were suf,ficient, there would be too great scope for rash or remiss conduct; which would prove the bane of society. These limits, which evidently tend to the good of society, are adjusted by the moral sense; which dictates, as laid down in the section of Reparation, that the man who acts with foresight of the probability of mischief, or acts rashly and uncautiously without such foresight, ought to be liable for consequences; but that the man who acts cautiously, without foreseeing or suspecting


any mischief, ought not to be liable for consequences.

In the same section it is laid down, that the moral sense requires from every man, not his own degree of vigilance and attention, which may be very small, but that which belongs to the common nature of the species. The final cause of that regulation will appear upon considering, that were reparation to depend upon personal circumstances, there would be a necessity of inquiring into the character of individuals, their education, their manner of living, and the extent of their understanding; which would render judges arbitrary, and such law-suits inextricable. But by assuming the common nature of the species as a standard, by which every man in conscience judges of his own actions, law-suits about reparation are rendered easy and expeditious.


Liberty and Necessity considered with respect to Mo



Aving, in the foregoing sections, ascertain

ed the reality of a moral sense, with its sentiments of approbation and disapprobation, praise and blame; the purpose of the present section is, to shew, that these sentiments are consistent with


the laws that govern the actions of man as a rational being. In order to which, it is first necessary to explain these laws; for there has been much controversy about them, especially among divines of the Arminian and Calvinist sects.

Human actions, as laid down in the first section, are of three kinds : one, where we act by instinct, without any view to consequences ; one, where we act by will, in order to produce some effect; and one, where we act against will. With respect to the first, the agent acts blindly, without delibera. tion or choice; and the external act follows necessarily from the instinctive impulse * Voluntary actions done with a view to an end, are in a very different condition: into these, desire and will, enter: desire to accomplish the end goes first; the will to act in order to accomplish the end is


* A stonechatter makes its nest on the ground' or 'near it; and the young, as soon as they can shift for themselves, leave the nest instinctively. An egg of that bird was laid in a swallow's nest, fixed to the roof of a church. The swallow fed all the young equally, without distinction.. The young stonechatter left the nest at the usual time before it could fly ; and falling to the ground, it was taken up dead. Here is instinct in purity, exerting itself blindly without regard to variation of circumstances. The same is observable in our dunghil-fowl. They feed on worms, corn, and other seeds dropt on the ground. In order to discover their food, nature has provided them with an instinct to scrape with the foot; and the instinct is so regularly exercised, that they scrape even when they are set upon a leap of corn.

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next; and the external act follows of course. Desire considered as what influences the will, is termed a motive. Thus, hearing that my friend is in the hands of robbers, I burn with desire to free him :. desire influences my will to arm my servants and to fly to his relief. Actions done against will come in afterward.

But what is it that raises desire? The answer is ready: it is the prospect of attaining some agreeable end, or of avoiding one that is disagreeable. And if it be inquired, What makes an object agreeable or disagreeable; the answer is equally ready, that our nature makes it so. Certain visible objects are agreeable, certain sounds, and certain smells: other objects of these senses are disagreeable. But there we must stop; for we are far from being so intimately acquainted with our own nature as to assign the causes.

These hints are sufficient for my present purpose : if one be curious to know more, the theory of desire, and of agreeableness and disagreeableness, will be found in Elements of Criticism *.

With respect to instinctive actions, no person, I presume, thinks that there is any freedom: an infant applies to the nipple, and a bird builds à nest, no less necessarily than a stone falls to the ground. With respect to voluntary actions, done in order to produce some effect, the necessity is the same, though less apparent at first view. VOL. III. M

The * Chap. 2.

The external action is determined by the will: the will is determined by desire : and desire by what is agreeable or disagreeable. Here is a chain of causes and effects not one link of which is arbitrary, or under command of the agent: he.can, not will but according to his desire : he cannot desire but according to what is agreeable or disagreeable in the objects perceived: nor do these qualities depend on his inclination or fancy; he has no power to make a beautiful woman appear ugly, nor to make a rotten carcase smell sweetly,

Many good men apprehending danger to morality from holding our actions to be necessary, endeavour to break the chain of causes and effects above mentioned, maintaining,

“ That whatever “ influence desire or motives may have, it is the

agent himself who is the cause of every action; that desire may advise, but cannot command; “ and therefore that a man is still free to act in “ contradiction to desire, and to the strongest mo“ tives.” That a being may exist, which in every case acts blindly and arbitrarily, without having any end in view, I can make a shift to conceive: but it is difficult for me even to imagine a thinking and rational being, that has affections and passions, that has a desireable end in view, that can easily accomplish this end; and yet, after all, can fly off, or remain at rest, without any cause, reason, or motive, to sway it. If such a whimsical being can possibly exist, I am certain that man is


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