תמונות בעמוד

not say

gument of these sections, is that all ligion. Now all these persons, as Christians derive an eminent advan, you are fully aware, must of necesa tage from the rules expressly taught sity fall into some of those errors in Scripture. At least I persuaded into which all partial and imperfect myself, while writing those sections, systems betray; such for example, that this was the obvious inference, as that of comprising in benevolence which they would suggest.

the whole of human virtue or excel I have, I believe, now shown that lence; unless they are taught a more by proposing religious character as comprehensive system, a system the general aim or object of man which includes in its wide circuit kind, I do not, any more than Scrip- every principle which moral science ture does, propose any limitation of can embrace. their objects or ends. For you will On this ground, therefore, on

that we limit the moral ob- which it were easy to enlarge, a true ject, when we propose an object so system must be ot evident usefulness, important and comprehensive that though it were only to serve to prothe whole of morals is included in its tect us from those errors into which scope. I have now to show that all partial systems betray. I might even the Scripture itself does pro- add also that, without some system pose this object for our imitation; or other, there can be no method by and that to propose it, as I bave which we can prove any precept to attempted to do, in strict analogy be in its nature holy, just, and good; to what is done in Scripture, may or by which we can trace any con. often have an eminent moral utility. nection whatever between the doc

Where then is this object pro- trines of a spiritual religion, and the posed in Scripture ?-Wherever love requisitions of a moral law. And is said to fulfil the law:-In very it is quite certain that to trace the many of those numerous passages in connection between those doctrines which salvation is said to be couse and these requisitions, to show that quent on faith ;-and in all those in they are connected, as parts of a which our Saviour himself is set system, or by the ties and depenpefore us as the perfect model or dencies of that order of nature which object of imitation:

we find established by the will of If then this object be proposed in God, enables us to advance both in Scripture, I might spare myself the the study of doctrine, and corresquestion whether or no it be useful pondingly also in the practice of so, to propose it. But it may still virtue, with a far greater degree be proper to show specifically what of firmuess and alacrity, than uses, the so proposing of it, or the that with wbich we should be able tracing of a system which serves to to proceed, if we could not see their explain the manner in which all sub connection, or if we held them to ordinate objects of pursuit are com have no connection at all, or to be prised or included in this compre- connected only by an arbitrary de hensive one, is calculated to afford. Indeed, if our experience can

In the first place, it is certain that teach us any thing, it teaches that almost all men, all men at least who to discern the reason of a precept have had a tolerable education, and always insures a prompter obedience have ever thought seriously of the to it; and though Scripture is not condition of human life, do, in fact, written systematically, few books in some way or other, attempt to contain so much reference to first systematize their moral opinions. principles, or so mucli require to That they must and will do this is be systematically explained ; and no shown abundantly by the history of writers can be more diligent in iomoral theories, and still more for- structing men in the reasons of their cibly by that of the theories of re- duty, or the true motives to prac




If we

tice it, than the Scripture writers useful and necessary that we should are seen to be.

have it." So far on the uses of proposing, I might here say, that, if as has in one comprehensive system or form, been proved *, religious character the moral object or pattern of hu- be an object we have to pursue, the man bife, uses which are, "I think, tendency to the formation of that manifestly intended in all those com- character, must, of necessity, be the prehensive summaries of our duty, ultimate test of all actions which which are in various places set forth havé that object in view. in Scripture, some of which have want to arrive at any place, our conbeen already recited.

sideration must be, what is the road Let me 'repeat, however, that to it? And so, whatever end we though I consider the system, in pursue, the laying down of the road, which I have proposed the religious or the tendency, to it, must, of necharacter for imitation, to be thus cessity, be the final test of the quesincontestibly a useful system, it has tion, whether we be pursuing it not been the main intention of my wisely or not. And though other treatise to propose or assert a sys. tests, which are more precise and tem or theory. I speak, certainly, specific, may often have more pracand this for the sake of system, of tical use than this has; those tests, one great object, as comprehending again, must, in the last resort, come all objects at which we have to aim always to be tried by the same tenin order to attain future happiness. dency. Thus, let the object be an If, however, men will but aim at increase of benevolence, a virtue all those objects which are included included in the attainment of the in that comprehensive one, they will religious character. A question so attain the great end proposed to arises respecting the uses of almsthere, even thongh they fail to un- giving as the proper method by derstand the system in which all which this object is to be gained. those objects are comprehended, We must now inquire, therefore, and lose, as I thiok, for want of into the tendency of giving alms that system, one method of attain. -or say that Scripture has decided ing their great end. My main ar this point, we have still only the gument is that if, of all the subor. same tendency for our guide, in dedipate virtues, there be not one, termining the rules or limitations by which is not purified and exalted by which the practice of almsgiving the influence of religious character, should be defined. This proof, Î or of religious motives, we cannot believe, of the necessity of this test, possibly attain those virtues them- supposing our object to be the atselves in that their purest and most tainment of religious character, does exalted state, unless we keep also not, in strictness, need any addithat character in view. That cha- tion. racter, so in view, must be an ob But to be more particular: since, ject to which it is indispensably ne though the necessity of this test cessary for us to attend, whether it follows directly, if I mistake not, be a comprehensive object or no. from

my last position, it is also caIV. I must now show, fourthly, pable of being separately proved ; " that to propose as the test of ac and the separate proof of it may tions, in the way in which I have throw an additional light on the proposed it, the tendency to the principle for which I have all along formation of religious character, is been arguing, and on the practical not to exclude, in any proper case, benefit which it


afford: other tests which are more precise and specifie; and that, however See above the proof of the IIId, posie vague this test may be, it is both tion.

.. What I say, then, not exeluding Scripture principles, how far inin any proper case other tests which cluded in its general precepts. And are more precise and specific, is, this also you seem to me to admit, that the tendency to the formation where you say, and justly, that “the of religious character is a test which sense of right and wrong, the prois both useful and necessary: or, bable general consequences, the to express my meaning, more parti- particular consequences to ourselves, cularly, that it is a general one and more especially to our characwhich includes all others; and thatter and habits, and the true estithere are cases, also, in which no mate which would be made by an other is adequate to measure accu- impartial person, all these, and rately the moral quality of actions. many more, are means which bave I speak of the actions of those who been given is by God for the purlive under the operation of the prin pose of enabling us to form correct ciple of obedience to the will of notions of his will and of our God, and who have, practically, duty *." These, in short, you relittle to look for in the science of gard as so many tests. And in so ethics, but the discovery of the par. regarding them I agree with you ticulars which God's will requires. fully. To all Christians this is the main The next question is; Whether use of the science; and it is unne the test I contend for be a general cessary here to advert to the case of one which includes all others? I those persons to whom the Scrip- have not stated, I think, any thing tures have not been made known, more than this. For it certainly is or to the advantages which may be not the meaning of my treatise, that, derived by Christians themselves of the tests you mention, we should from tracing, as far as may be, all “ surrender all but one t.” Over analogies between the wriiten and and above what is said in a distinct the unwritten law of God. Does section I, which treats formally of then the Christian need any test the use of practical rules, I state whatever, besides the precepts which explicitly that prudence, or, as you he finds in Scripture? and, if he express it, “ the consequences to does, has that test which I have ourselves 5," cannot be averred proposed the real value which I to be the sole criterion by which suppose to belong to it?

the conscience may or ought to be of the preliminary question; guided; that we ought to be just

, Whether the Christian need any test we ought to be pious, even on the whatever, besides

the precepts principle of prudence alone; anii which he finds in Scripture? it is that, to these ends, the criterions said by Paley, that “ whoever ex to which we look must be the cripects to find in Scripture a specific terions of justice. or pietyll."., I direction for every moral doubt that state also that " in almost all ordiarises, looks for more than he will nary pursuits, the rule of life is meet with t." This Paley says, and commonly very easy, if the princiI think that in this you agree with ple of obeying it be but in force?;" him. Scripture principles apply to that we have for our guides, not all cuses. Its specific precepts, in neglecting revelation,

" the examthe sense here intended, do not. ple of others," " the law," and Some test, therefore, is of necessity requisite in cases of doubt conteruing particular actions, of doubt

* Christian Remenibrancer, p. 107.

† Ibid. ibid. Show far they are consistent with

Huinan Mutives, part, ii, chap.j. 93.

Christian Remembrancer, P. 167.1 *** Christian Remembrancerp, 106m 183 11 | Hamani Matives, p. 582.jfini pult **

F Paley's Moral Philosophy, vol. 1, p. 5. Ibid. p. 255.


[ocr errors]


ever we

" the

4 public opinion *** naming these I have now to prove that the tentests certainly with no intention to dency here spoken of, 'is, 'in 'some exclude those others of which you cases, the only adequate measure speak. All that I say of prudence, of the moral quality of actions. as a eriterion," is, that it is the pa- This point you apparently must adremount criterion of all the rest +'; mit, since you plainly admit* the including all, but not excluding test in question to be one which we any f: that it is, a general one ; are sometimes bound to apply. But, and that there are cases, also, in as this point is, I believe, the real which no other is adequate to “mea- hinge on which the merits of the sure" accurately the moral quality whole system turn, I will beg your of actions §. The use of showing it permission to explain it particularly to be a general criterion, is, that it in the consideration of a few selected serves to combine the rest into system; and that by referring to it, I may take, as one case, the We may always clearly prove, how- crime of suicide, and, as another, may

be driven to extremities the virtue of fortitude; and I shall by pertinacious arguers on the prin- point out the inadequacy, in these ciples of our conduct, that it is im- two cases, of the other tests possible to impugn without folly which you speak of; namely, “ the the established rules of virtue, or sense of right and wrong,' of religion. And that this criterion probable general consequences," is in reality thus general is evident, and “ the true estimate which would if it be wholly impossible that“ in be made by an limpartial person t." calculating our own best way to I am far from supposing, that you happiness, we should not, in the last yourself, in such cases, would think resort

, estimate every thing by its of applying these other tests, or that effect on ourselves 9." This calcu- your observations imply your 'attrilation, indeed, of our own best way buting to them more iinportance to happiness, is not, as I appre- than they may justly possess. My bend, the only case in which this sole purpose is to exemplify the usetendency to the formation of religious fulness of taking, in some cases, as ebaracter is justly applicable as a the test of actions, the tendency to general test. It is also applicable the formation of religious character ; in all cases of obligation; but as by comparing it, in these particular the question of obligation is not instances, with those other tests properly included in the general which you mention, and which, perargument pursued in my treatise, I haps, may be ranked next to it, shall reserve all further observation though in very different degrees of concerning it, till I come to the importance. consideration of your objections to First then of suicide.-Is it not what I bave advanced, incidentally, certain that both the moral sense of and in a few pages of the Appendix, the agent, and the vulgar estimate on the obligation which I suppose formed of the action, have, in some all men to be under, so to act as instances, scarcely reckoned it may be most for their own bene among crimes ? Both these tests are

little more than indications that we

ought to be wary lest our passions * Human Motives, p. 255. 1 Ibid. p. 582.

* Cbristian Remembrancer, p. 167.it 1 Ibid. ibitf.; and p. 383.

+ Ibid. ibid. I am not sure that I ex$Ibid. p. 384.

actly understand in what sense you here " | Sec above mider the IIId. position, niake use of the word true, but I will (Hunian Motives, p. 34.

'venture to presnme, that it must mean the ** This will be tha subject of the VIth same with real, or that you would exclude positiou.

by it oot error, ' but hypocrisy."

[ocr errors]


deceive us, and to look carefully for for moral fortitude may justly be some better criterion,

made, in private life, with scarcely And, undoubtedly, a better cri- a less degree of force than in pubterion will be found in the conse- lic; though society be in this case quences which may accrue to society. little concerned ; though the test of But is it casy to say, that there are the value, or the importance of this not many gone cases, in which a man virtue, may here be ouly the degree

who may be crippled with disease, in which it is requisite to enable the " and overcome by pain, and broken agent to resist temptation; for exa

in spirit, may not justly think that ample, the temptation of gain or of society would be even benefited by pleasure; and to sustain the chathe surrender of his own station in racter of his mind. it to his heir ? or is it easy to say,

Even these cases, however, are that the love of life is not far 100 but inadequate instances of the imstrong a principle to allow suicide portance of taking the tendency to, ever to become so common, as to the formation of moral character, as produce any serious ill consequences the test by which our actions are to to society? or, though the calcu- be weighed. The test of all duties, lation of these consequences to so as far as they affect society, must, ciety be, as I believe it to be, of course, be the consequences to against the practice, yet does it that society: and this test will, to a afford sufficient ground for a strong certain extent, prove suicide to be a conclusion ? Is this ground the best crime, will prove fortitude to be a on which to stand? or ought we not virtue. But to the duties which, rather to take the ground of saying, according to the old division, men that every man is called to act or owe to God and to themselves, it is suffer according to the will of the most certain that the test of the Great Author of his existence; and consequences to society will not at that though denied, perhaps, the all apply. Here we must have the power of exerting himself in any ca. tendency to character: for otherpacity of doing good to society, be wise we have no test at all. Thus may still turn his own sufferings to in piety: the test of its strength bis own moral improvement ? It is the degree in which it excites us may be said, indeed, and justly to act: but the test of its purity is said, that he may even do good to the real tendency of the acts excited society by furnishing an example of by it, to form that character at religious patience and constancy. which we aim; or else that real forBut is this the first end, is it not mation of the same character which merely the second ? If the case be the performance of those acts: not a case of religion, it cannot pos- evinces. If there be no test but sibly afford a religious example. that of its strength, we cannot know

In the same manner, with regard the true nature of the feeling: it to the virtue of fortitude. Opinion, may be a malignant or a savage fano doubt, ranks it high. But opi- naticism, which colours itself with nion usually miscalculates its im- the name of piety. The actions, or portance. It is, or may be, emic the active habits themselves, cannot nently useful in society: but can ils be the test, because they are not a social uses be the measure of its complete evidence of the real movalue to any man who lives in a pri- tive. The tendency, therefore, of vate station, of whom society may the acts, or the habits to the fornever require the sterner virtues, mation of the moral character which well contenting itself if he be docile I have described; or else, wbich and amiable? Yet still the demand comes eventually to the same thing,

« הקודםהמשך »