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meet with in their persuit of them; how wort-lived their enjoyments are, and how heavily the time goes off in the intervals, having no other fountain from which they can draw forth pleasure and delight to themselves. See how many enjoyments, valuable in themselves, and various in their kinds, which they exclude themselves from tasting; how much pain of body and uneasiness of mind they, sooner or later, draw upon themselves; and how often they cut off their lives in the midst of their days, or else bring upon themselves such disorders, as render life a weight and burden to them. This, I think, will, upon a just enquiry, appear generally to be the case, with respect to all violent and extravagant persuits of pleasure whatever. Solomon's condition and circumstances in life furnished him with materials for delight, and gave him the opportunity of enjoyment ; and he seemed resolved, if poflible, to take the shortest way to happiness. And, accordingly, he informs us, that he set himself to persue pleasure various ways, and in the most violent manner, that his superiour circumstances in life rendered hiin capable of: but, upon trial, he found that this was not the way to folid and lasting happiness. For tho, by this means, he enjoyed some very intense but momentary pleasures; yet the care and follicitude in procuring them, the uneasiness mixed with them, and the unhappiness entailed upon them, were much more than an equivalent to those pleasures: so that, upon the whoie, he pronounces all chote violent and extravagant persuits of pleasure, as vanity and vexation of spirit.
The case is the same, if men go into the other extreme, viz. into a violent and extravagant persuit of riches, denying themselves many of the comforts of life, and putting off enjoyment to the next generation. This is so far from introducing a happy life, that, on the contrary, it bars up the way to it. For tho their present acquisitions and possessions, with the faint prospect of the use which pofterity may make of them, may give a man some lomu, weak pleasure and satisfaction; yet they are not once to be named with those more intense and numerous pleasures, both sensual, intelle&tual, and moral, which his constitution and condition in life render him capable of tasting, and which he denies himself the enjoyment of. Besides, an eager persuit of riches is such a disease upon a man, as introduces a great deal of care and sollicitude to procure them, a great deal of anxiety and thought how to secure and preserve them, together with the danger and fear of losing them, and the lofles and crosses which frequently attend them; all these prey upon a man's fpirits, and eat out the comforts of life. And tho such men regard scarce any other interest, but their own, yet they are constantly betraying it; their very persuits and possessions serving only as fuel to feed that fire, which consumes the most valuable pleasures in life. And hereby the most selfish are the greatest enemies to themselves, by their frustrating and disappointing themselves of that happiness, which they are naturally led to desire and persue, and which only renders being valuable to them. So that riches, to such men, are so far from being subfervient to a happy life, that, on the contrary, they bar up the way to it.
Whereas if men would avoid those extreams, and persue pleasure in the way which God ard nature have pointed out to them; that is, would moderately perfue and temperately enjoy the good things of this world, and would so mix and restrain their enjoyments, as that one kind, or one instance, should not break in upon, but heighten the pleasures which arise from the other kinds, or the other instances of
enjoyment; this would naturally tend to preserve in them a healthy constitution,
ppiness, so he is designed to be happy in and with fociety. And when he persues his own happiness, under a strict regard to the common good, then he is in the most proper and likely way to obtain it. Then as he is capable of, and dilposed to taste of what may give him plealure; fo in his enjoyments he is the most free from reluctancy, and from every thing else which might be an allay to it. And as he prevents the pain and disorder of body and the uneasiness of mind, which are the attendants on a selfish and violent persuit of pleasure; so the absence
that kind or branch of pleasure cannot be the ground of much unealiness to him; because as he is not violently set upon any enjoyment, so the absence of one kind or branch of pleasure can easily be fupply'd by the presence of another. And as he is interested in the common felicity, so he is a sharer in every one's happiness thereby; whenever he beholds the peace, the plenty, the prosperity, which others abound in, these afford joy and delight to him; and whilst the selfish covetous man is gnawing his tongue for pain, at the prosperity of another, who plentifully enjoys what he would moncpólize to himself, but would not make use of; the other is solacing himself in beholding the pleasure and satisfaction in life which his neighbours are enjoying. And tho the troubles and afflictions which befal others will give an occasion of concern to him, yet that is abundantly made up by the agreeable pleasure, which arises from his ministering assistance, comfort, and relief to them. And whatever difficulties, afflictions, or distresses he may fall into, he has this fatisfaction in himself that he has acted a worthy and a manly part. And as he has carefully avoided every thing which might draw upon him the just enmity of any, so he has taken the most sure course, to secure to himself the affections and friendship of all. If he looks back upon his life past, this affords no remorse or uneasiness of mind, but pleasure and satisfaction. And, if he looks forward upon death, this gives him no forebodings of a dreadful judgment and retribution, but good hope of a blefjed immortality.
Thus, I have given a short representation of the true and only way to a happy lite; wishing that hereby I may prevail upon those of my readers, who are otherMil-minded, to try the experiment; and, then, I doubt not, but it will turn to
account. Surely, if the men of pleasure falsly so called, that is, those who violently and extravagantly persue this or that kind or branch of pleasure; if they would but give themselves leave to consider the case; and much more, if they would but make trial, they would be convinced that the course they are in is not the way to solid and lasting happiness; and that che way which I here recommend, and which, in truth, is the way that God and nature have provided and pointed out to them, is the high road to a happy life. I am sensible of my inability to do justice to the subject before me; and what I propose and hope for, by this imperfect essay, is to stir up some more able hand to treat of it more clearly, and to represent it to a much better advantage, than I am capable of doing; because, I think, it is a point of the utmost concern to mankind. For as every individual persues happiness for himself, so many lose what they seek for, by persuing it only and wholly for themselves. To conclude ; I observe, that as the love and practice of virtue is the most likely way to happiness in this life, so it is the only sure way to the happiness of another. It is by our thus answering the great end of our creation here, that we effeétually recommend ourselves to the love and favour of God hereafter. For if we are thus faithful in the unrighteous mammon, then, God will commit to our trust the true riches.
Wherein is sewn, What Kind of Virtue is, in Reason, rewardable; and what kind of Vice
is, in Reason, punishable. Occasioned, by Dr. Morgan's Tract, entitled, A Defence of Natural and Revealed Religion.
T HE word virtue, as I have elsewhere * observed, is sometimes taken in
a larger, and sometimes in a more restrained sense. In a larger sense, it includes all such actions, as are in themselves right and fit, and thereby
render the agent, in the performance of them, the proper object of the approbation of every other intelligent being, who is qualified to discern the finess
tions, and the unfitness of their contraries. And, in a restrained sense, it includes only such as are acts of kindness and beneficence unto others, and thereby render the agent, in the performance of them, not only worthy of the approbation, but also of the kindness and beneficence of every other intelligent being, * See my Reflections on Natural Liberty,
who is qualified to discern the valuableness of those actions, and the baseness of their contraries. And as virtue is thus considered in a larger, or in a more rea strained sense; fo vice admits of the like distinction. And, accordingly, in the more extensive sense of the word, vice, all actions which, in reason, are wrong and unfit are said to be vicious. Whereas, in the more restrained sense of the word, it includes only such actions as are injurious and hurtful to others, and thereby render the agent, in the performance of them, not only disapprovable, but also the proper object of resentment to every other intelligent being, who is qualified to discern the baseness of those actions, and the valuableness of their contraries. And as vice is thus differently considered; so some selfish actions are so far from being, in any respect, vicious, that, on the contrary, they are really virtuous, in the more general sense of the word, virtue. And, therefore, in my Discourse on Virtue and Happiness, I did not, as it is said * of me, confound together a virtuous and a vicious selfishness, and then argue against all selfish actions: but, on the contrary, I carefully distinguished betwixt such selfishness as is, in reason, approvable, and such as is justly condemnable, as will appear from the following quotation, and likewise from the quotation in the succeeding paragraph. “If a man persues happiness for “ himself, and prefers his own good to that of any other individual, this, I think, is per“ fectly just and reasonable, and is what approves itself to the understanding of every “man.” And whereas, in my Discourse on Virtue and Happiness, I laid down the following proposition, viz. that virtue is solely founded in benevolence : here the term, virtue, I understood, not in the larger, but in the more restrained sense of that word, as is most evident from that whole discourse: wherein I referred only to such actions, · as are not only approvable, but also render the agent, upon the account of them, the proper object of reward to every other intelligent being, who is no ways interested in those actions; and such rewardable goodness or virtue, I observed, is solely founded in benevolence. This is what I asserted; and which I endeavoured to support by the following reason, viz. “ When a man does hurt to himself, thro « some wrong conduct, tho this would render him worthy of blame, and tho his “ actions should be disapprovable; yet here is nothing which excites the resentment “ of a by-stander, and which would render him worthy of corre&tion, upon that « account. For as he has done no evil to others; so he cannot, in reason, deserve “ any evil from them. In like manner, when a man does good to himself, how “ reasonable and just soever this may be; yet there is nothing valuable in it, which “ merits reward, or which excites à by-stander to contribute to such a man's feli“ city. For as he fought himself only, in that action; so he cannot deserve any " thing from another, upon the account of it. Whereas when a man perlues the good “ of another, for that other's fake; then he renders himself truly lovely and amia“ ble in the eyes of others, and they are naturally and justly excited by it, to “ contribute to such a man's felicity, if ability and opportunity concur to render “ them capable of so doing. For as he generously sought the good of others; so “ he justly merits the love and service of others, upon that account.” This is what I have offered, in favour of the proposition before referred to; which reasoning is just and conclufve, for any thing that has yet been shewn to the contrary. However, that I may make it more clear, I will instance in a case, or two, and * In Dr. Morgan's Defence of Natural and Revealed Religion. M m m
thereby shew my reader that it is not the bare fitness, or unfitness, the reasonablenejs, or unreasonableness of an action, which renders the agent the proper object of reward, or punishment. As thus,
If it should be in a man's power to enjoy one hour's pleasure to day, or two hours pleasure to morrow, these being incompatible, so that he cannot enjoy both: in this cale, as the greater good is, in reason, preferable to the less; so it is certainly fit and reasonable, that a man should deny himself one hour's pleasure to day, that he may enjoy two. hours pleasure to morrow; and to act otherwise would be unfit and unreasonable. Now, supposing a man should act the unreasonable part, by giving himself one hour's pleasure, and thereby deprive himself of two; the question is, Whether such a conduct renders him the proper object of resentment, and, consequently, of punishment, to a by-stander, when no one is a sufferer, but the fool kimself, by his folly ? and the answer to me appears felf-evident: viz. That he is not. His weakness and folly, I think, render him the object of my pity, but not of my resentment. And if I were to punish him for it, I cannot see how I could, in reason, be justified. And as, in this case, vice carries with it its own punishment; so, I think, in reason, that is all that the vicious person deserves, upon account of it. On the other side, suppose a man acts the reasonable part, by denying himself one hour's pleasure to day, for the sake of two hours pleasure to morrow: Would he deserve a reward, for so doing? No, surely. For as he only fought himself, and as his virtue carries with it its own reward; so, I think, it is all which, in reason, he is entitled to. Again, fuppofe a man patiently bears the · evil which it is not in his power to remove; this is certainly right and fit, because
it renders the affliction so much the lighter : but, then, does a man deserve to be rewarded, for making his affliction ealy to himself ? Surely, no. The case is the same with all felfijh virtues: for where men solely seek themselves, I cannot see how they can, in reason, merit, that is, deserve any thing from others, upon account of it. And as it is not selfish, but benevolent virtue only, which is, in reason, rewardable ; so it is not all vice, but only luch as is injurious and burtful to others, which is, in reason, punishable.
All reward is the produce of gratitude, that is, it is returning to a person that good, which he has kindly and generously communicated to others. So that where there is no good communicated, nor intended to be communicated, there is no foundation for gratitude or reward. Whether we ourselves are sharers in the good communicated, or not, it alters not the case, any otherwise than as the obligation to be grateful rises higher, and becomes stronger, when we ourselve communicated good, than when it is received by others, we being obliged, in reason, to be grateful in both cases. He, who kindly uses others, deserves kind usage from all, and, consequently, from us, whether we have been sharers in his kindness, or not. Whereas he, who is only kind to himself, does not lay any obligation upon others to be kind to him, upon that account. The case is the same in publick rewards, which are no other than publick gratitude. He, who has been beneficial to the comm911-wealth, deserves a grateful return of kindness from the publick, which, in other words, we call reward: whereas he, who has only been kind to himself, cannot, in reason, have any title to it. Again,
All punishment is the produce of resentment, that is, it is returning to a person