Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

6 hast not strawed; and I was afraid, and hid thy 66 talent in the earth; lo, there thou hast that is 66 chine. His lord answered and said unto him, 66. Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest, vs (or knewest thou ?) that I reap where I lowed

not, and gather where I have not ftrawed ; thou 66 oughtest thereforç to put my money to the ex. a chiangers, and then at my coming I should have «s received mine own with usury. Take therefore 56 the talent from him, and give it unto him which 66 hath ten talents ; for unto every one that hath " Thall be given, and he shall have abundance ; " but from him that hath not shall be taken away 66 even that which he hach; and cast ye the unprofi. 1 table servant into outer darkness, there hall be $ weeping and gnashing of teeth." **

III. In every question of conduct where one fide is doubtful, and the other side fafe, we are bound to take the safe fide.

This is best explained by an instance, and I know of none more to our purpose than that of suicide. Suppose, for example's fake, that it appear doubt. ful to a reasoner upon the subject, whether he may Jawfully destroy himself. He can have no doubt, but that it is lawful for him to let it alone. Here therefore is a case, in which one fide is doubtful, and the other side safe. ' By virtue therefore of our rule, he is bound to pursue the safe side, that is, to forbear from offering violence to himself, whilst a doubt remains upon his mind concerning the lawfulness of suicide.

It is prudent, you allow, to take the safe side. But our observation ineans something more. We affert that the action, concerning which we doubt, whether it may be in itself, or to another, would, in us, whilst this doubt remains upon our minds, be certainly linful. The case is expressly so ad.

* Mat. xxv. 24, &c.

judged

judged by St. Paul, with whose authority we will for the present rest contented. " I know and am 6 persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is o nothing unclean of itself, but to him that ef. teemeth any thing to be unclean to him it is unclean.

.......... Happy is he that condemneth not “, himself in that thing which he alloweth; and he “ that doubteth is damned (condemned) if he eat, " for whatsoever is not of faith (i. e. not done with " a full persuasion of the lawfulness of it) is 66 fin." *:

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

THE QUESTION, WHY AM I OBLIGED TO

KEEP MY WORD! CONSIDERED.

VV HY am I obliged to keep my word ?

Because it is right, says one.-Because it is agree.. able to the fitness of things, says another. -Because it is conformable to reason and nature, says a third. Because it is conformable to truth, says a fourth. Because it promotes the public good, says a fifth.-Because it is required by the will of God, concludes a sixth.

Upon which different accounts, two things are observable :

First, that they all ultimately coincide.

The fitness of things, means their fitness to produce happiness : the nature of things, means that actual constitution of the world, by which some things, as such and such actions, for example, pro

duce

duce happiness, and others misery : reason is the principle, by which we discover or judge of this constitution : truth is this judgment expressed or drawn out into propofitions. So that it necessarily comes to pass, that what promotes the public happiness, or happiness upon the whole, is agreeable to the fitness of things, to nature, to reason, and to truth ; and such, (as will appear by and by) is the divine character, that what promotes the general happiness is required by the will of God; and what has all the above properties must needs be right; for right means no more than conformity to the rule we go by, whatever that rule be.

And this is the reason that moralists, from what. ever different principles they set out, commonly meet in their conclusions ; that is, they enjoin the same conduct, prescribe the same rules of duty, and, with a few exceptions, deliver upon dubious cases the same determinations

Secondly, it is to be observed, that these an. swers all leave the matter short : for the inquirer may turn round upon his teacher with a second question, in which he will expect to be satisfied, namely, why am I obliged to do what is right; to act agreeably to the fitness of things; to conform to reason, nature, or truth; to promote the public good, or to obey the will of God?

The proper method of conducting the inquiry is, FIRST, to examine what we mean, when we say a man is obliged to do the thing which we have pro. posed as an example, namely, “ to keep his word."

CH A P.

[blocks in formation]

WHAT WE MEAN WHEN WE SAY A MAN IS OBLIGED TO

A THING.

MAN is said to be obliged, " when he is A " urged by a violent motive resulting from the 6 command of another."

I. « The motive must be violent." If a person, who has done me some little service, or has a small place in his disposal, ask me upon some occasion for my vote, I may possibly give it him, from a motive of gratitude or expectation ; but I should hardly fay, that I was obliged to give it him, because the inducement does not rise high enough. Whereas, if a father or a master, any great benefactor, or one on whom my fortune depends, require my vote, I give it him of course ; and my answer to all who ask me why I voted so and so, is, that my father or niy master obliged me; that I had received so many favours from, or had so great a dependence upon such a one, that I was obliged to vote as he directed ine.

SECONDLY, “ It must result from the command “ of another.” Offer a man a gratuity for doing any thing, for seizing, for example, an offender, he is not obliged by your offer to do it ; nor would he say he is ; though he may be induced, persuaded, prevailed upon, tempted. If a magistrate, or the inan's immediate superior command it, he considers himself as obliged to comply, though possibly he would lose less by a refusal in this case, than in the former.

I will not undertake to say that the words obliga. tion and obliged are used uniformly in this fense, or always with this distinction ; nor is it possible to tie

down

« AnteriorContinuar »