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tempted in the Scriptures, throughout the whole extent of morality, is manifest they would have been by much too balky to be either read or circulated ; or rather, as St. John says, even the world itselt could not contain the books that should be written."
Morality is taught in Scripture in this wise. General rules are laid down, of piety, justice, benevolence, and purity : such as, worshipping. God in spirit and in truth; doing as we would be done by ; loving our neighbour as ourself ; forgiving others, as we expect forgiveness from God; that mercy is better than sacrifice; that not that which entereth into a man (nor, by parity of reason, any ceremonial pollutions,) but that which proceedeth from the heart, defileth' him. These rules are occasionally illus: trated, either by fictitious examples, as in the parable of the good Samaritan; and of the cruel servant, who refused to his fellow-servant that indulgence and compassion which his master had shown to him: or in instances which actually presented themselves, as in Christ's reproof of his disciples at the Samaritan vil. lage; his praise of the poor widow, who cast in her last mite ; his censure of the Pharisees who chose out the chief rooms, and of the tradition, wliereby they evaded the command to sustain their indigent parents : or, lastly, in the resolution of questions, which those who were about our Saviour proposed to him ; as his answer to the young man who asked him, "What lack I yet ?” and to the honest scribe, who had found out, even in that age and country, that “to love God and his neighbour, was more than all whole burntofferings and sacrifice."
And this is in truth the way in which all practical sciences are taught, as Arithmetic, Grammar, Navigation, and the like.-Rules are laid down, and examples are subjoined: not that these examples are the cases, much less all the cases, which will actually occur ; but by way only of explaining the principle of the rule, and as so many specimens of the method of applying it. The chief difference is, that the examples in Scripture are not annexed to the rules with the didactic regularity to which we are now-a-days accustomed, but delivered dispersed11, as particular occasions suggested them; wirici
gave them, however, (especially to those who heard them, and were present to the occasions which produced them,), an energy and persuasion, much beyond what the same or any instances would have appeared with, in their places in a system.
Beside this, the Scriptures commonly presuppose. in the persons to whom they speak, a knowledge of the principles of natural justice ; and are employed not so much to teach new rules of morality, as to enforce the practice of it by new sanctions, and by a greater certainty ; which last seems to be the proper business of a revelation from God, and what was most wanted.
Thus the “ unjust covenant-breakers, and extortioners,” are condemned in Scripture, supposing it known, or leaving it, where it admits of doubt, to moralists to determine, what injustice, extortion, or breach of covenant, are.
The above considerations are intended to prove that the Scriptures do not supersede the use of the science of which we profess to treat, and at the same time to acquit them of any charge of imperfection on insufficiency on that account.
The moral sense. 4 THE father of Caius Toranius had been proscribed by the triumvirate. Caius Toranius, coming over to the interests of that party, discovered to the officers, who were in pursuit of his father's life, the place where he concealed himself, and gave them withal a description by which they might distinguish his person, when they found him. The old man, more anxious for the safety and fortunes of his son, than about the little that might remain of his own life, began immediately to inquire of the officers who seized him, whether his son was well, whether he had done his duty to the satisfaction of his generals.
That son, (replied one of the officers) so dear to thy affections, betrayed thee to us; by his information thou art apprehended, and diest. The officer with this struck a poniard to his heart, and the anbapny
parent fell, not so much affected by his fate, as by the means to which he owed it."**
Now the question is, whether, if this story were related to the wild boy caught some years ago in the woods of Hanover, or to a savage without experience, and without instruction, cut off in his infancy from all intercourse with his species, and, consequently, under no possible influence of example, au, thority, education, sympathy, or habit; whether, I say, such a one would feel, upon the relation, any degree of that sentiment of disapprobation of Toranius's conduct which we feel or not?
They who maintain the existence of a moral sense ; of innate maxims; of a natural conscience; that the love of virtue and hatred of vice are instinctive, or the perception of right and wrong intuitive, (all which are only different ways of expressing the same opi. nion) affirm that he would.
They who deny the existence of a moral sense, &c. affirm that he would not. And upon this, issue is joined.
As the experiment has never been made, and from the difficulty of procuring a subject (not to mention the impossibility of proposing the question to him, if we had one) is never likely to be made, what would be the event, can only be judged of from probable reasons.
They who contend for the affirmative, observe, that we approve examples of generosity, gratitude, fidelity, &c. and condemn the contrary, instantly, without deliberation, without having any interest of our own concerned in them, oft-times without being conscious of, or able to give any reason for, our approbation : that this approbation is uniform and uni.
“ Caius Toranius triumvirum partes secutus, proscripti patris sui prætorii et ornati viri latebras, ætatem, notasque corporis, quibus agnosci posset, centurionibus edidit, qui eum persecuti sunt.
Senex de filii magis vita et incrementis quam de reliquo spiritu suo solicitus, an incolumis esset, et an imperatoribus satisfaceret, interrogare eos cæpit. E quibus unus : 'Ab inquit, quem tantopere iligis,
nonstratus nostro ministerio, flii indicio occideris : protinusque pectus ejus gladio trajecit. Collapsus itaque est infelix, auctore cædis, quem ipsa cæde, miserior."-Valer. Max. lib. ix. cap. Ik
versal, the same sorts of conduct being approved or disapproved in all ages and countries of the world ; circumstances, say they, which strongly indicate the operation of an instinct or moral sense.
On the other hand, answers have been given to most of these arguments, by the patrons of the opposite system; and,
First, as to the uniformity above alleged, they controvert the fact. They remark, from authentie accounts of historians and travellers, that there is scarcely a single vice which, in some age or country of the world, has not been countenanced by public opinion : that in one country, it is esteemed an office of piety in children to sustain their aged parents ; in another, to despatch them out of the way : that suicide, in one age of the world, has been heroism, is in another felony : that theft, which is punished by most laws, by the laws of Sparta was not unfrequently rewarded that the promiscuous commerce of the sexes, although condemned by the regulations and censure of all civilized nations, is practised by the savages of the tropical regions without reserve, compunction, or disgrace : that crimes, of which it is no longer permitted us even to speak, have had their advocates amongst the sages of very renowned times : that, if an inhabitant of the polished nations of Europe be delighted with the appearance, wherever he meets with it, of happiness, tranquillity, and comfort, a wild American is no less diverted with the writhings and contortions of a victim at the stake : that even amongst ourselves, and in the present improved state of moral knowledge, we are far from a perfect consent in our opinions or feelings : that you
shall hear duelling alternately reprobated and applauded, according to the sex, age, or station, of the person you converse with : that the forgiveness of injuries and insults is accounted by one sort of people magnanimity, by another meanness: that in the above instances, and perhaps in most others, moral approbation follows the fashions and institutions of the country we live in, which fashions also and institutions themselves have grown out of the exigences, the climate, situation, or local circumstances, of the country; or have been set up by the
authority of an arbitrary chieftain, or the unaccount, able caprice of the multitude :--all which, they observe, looks very little like the steady hand and indelible characters of Nature. But,
Secondly, Because, after these exceptions and abatements, it cannot be denied but that some sorts of actions command and receive the esteem of mankind more than others; and that the approbation of them is general though not universal: as to this they say, that the general approbation of virtue, even in instances where we have no interest of our own to induce us to it, may be accounted for, without the assistance of a moral sense ; thus :
“Having experienced, in some instances, a particular conduct to be beneficial to ourselves, or observed that it would be so, a sentiment of approbation rises up in our minds; which sentiment afterward accompanies the idea or mention of the same conduct, although the private advantage which first excited it no longer exist."
And this continuance of the passion, after the reason of it has ceased, is nothing more, say they, than what happens in other cases ; especially in the love of money, which is in no person so eager as it is oftentimes found to be in a rich old miser, without family to provide for, or friend to oblige by it, and to whom consequently it is no longer (and he may be sensible of it too) of any real use or value; yet is this man as much overjoyed with gain, and mortifi. ed by losses, as he was the first day he opened his shop, and when his very subsistencc depended upon his success in it.
By these means the custom of approving certain actions commenced : and when once such a custom hath got footing in the world, it is no difficult thing to explain how it is transmitted and continued; for then the greatest part of those who approve of virtue, approve it from authority, by imitation, and from a habit of approving such and such actions, inculcated in early youth, and receiving, as men grow up, continual accessi of strength and vigour, from censure and encouragement, from the books they read, the conversations they hear, the current application of epithets, the general turn of language,