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such rational conduct contributes in every re. spect to happiness, by preserving health, by procuring plenty, by gaining the esteem of others, and, which of all is the greatest blessing, by gaining a juftly founded self-esteem. But in a matter so effential to our well-being, even felfinterest is not relied on: the powerful authority of duty is fuperadded to the motive of interest. The God of nature, in all things essential to our happiness, hath observed one uniform method: to keep us steady in our conduct, he hath fortified us with natural laws and principles, preventive of many aberrations, which would daily happen were we totally surrendered to so fallible a guide as is human reason. Propriety cannot rightly be considered in another light than as the natural law that regulates our conduct with respect to ourselves; as justice is the natural law that regulates our conduct with respect to others. I call propriety a faw, no less than ju. stice ; because both are equally rules of conduct that ought to be obeyed : propriety includes that obligation; for to say an action is proper, is in other words to say, that it ought to be performed; and to say it is improper, is in other words to say, that it ought to be forborne. It is that very character of ought and pould which makes justice a law to us; and the fame character is ap. plicable to propriety, though perhaps more faintly than to justice : but the difference is in degree only, not in kind; and we ought, without hesita
tion or reluctance, to submit equally to the government of both.
But I have more to urge upon that head. To the sense of propriety as well as of justice, are annexed the sanctions of rewards and punishments; which evidently prove the one to be a law as well as the other. The satisfaction a man hath in doing his duty, joined to the esteem and good-will of others, is the reward that belongs to both equally. The punishments also, though not the same, are nearly allied ; and differ in degree more than in quality. Difobedience to the law of justice is punished with remorse ; difobedience to the law of propriety, with shame, which is remorse in a lower degree. Every transgression of the law of justice raifes indignation in the beholder; and fo doth every flagrant transgression of the law of propriety. Slighter improprieties receive a milder punishment : they are always rebuked with some degree of contempt, and frequently with derifion. In general, it is true, that the rewards and punishments annexed to the senfe of propriety are flighter in degree than those annexed to the sense of justice; which is wisely ordered, because duty to others is still more effential to society than duty to ourselves : fociety, indeed, could not fubfift a moment, were individuals not protected from the headstrong and turbulent passions of their neighbours.
The final cause now unfolded of the sense of propriety, must, to every discerning eye, appear delightful : and yet this is but a partial view; for that sense reaches another illustrious end, which is, in conjunction with the sense of justice, to enforce the performance of social duties. In fact, the sanctions visibly contrived to compel a man to be just to himfelf, are equally serviceable to compel him to be just to others; which will be evident from a single reflection, That an ac. tion, by being unjust, ceases not to be improper: an action never appears more eminently improper, than when it is unjuft: it is obvious. ly becoming, and suitable to human nature, that each man do his duty to others; and, accordingly, every transgression of duty to others, is at the same time a transgression of duty to one's self. This is a plain truth without exaggeration; and it opens a new and enchanting view in the moral landscape, the prospect being greatly enriched by the multiplication of agreeable objects. It appears now, that nothing is overlooked, nothing left undone, that can poflibly contribute to the enforcing social duty; for to all the fanctions that belong to it fingly, are superadded the fanctions of self-duty. A familiar example shall suffice for illustration. An act of ingratitude, considered in itself, is to the author disagreeable, as well as to every spectator ; confidered by the author with relation to himself, it raises self-contempt: considered by him with
relation to the world, it makes him ashamed: considered by others, it raises their contempt and indignation against the author. These feel. ings are all of them occafioned by the iinpropriety of the action. When the action is confidered as unjust, it occasions another set of feelings : in the author it produces remorse, and a dread of merited punishment; and in others, the benefactor chiefly, indignation and hatred directed to the ungrateful person. Thus shame and remorse united in the ungrateful person, and indignation united with hatred in the hearts of others, are the punishments provided by nature for injustice. Stupid and insensible must he be, who, in a contrivance so exquisite, perceives not the benevolent hand of our Creator,
DIGNITY AND GRACĖ.
THE terms dignity and meanness are applied
to man in point of character, sentiment, and behaviour : we say, for example of one man, that he hath natural dignity in his air and manner ; of another, that he makes a mean ti. gure: we perceive dignity in every action and sentiment of some persons ; meanness and vulgarity in the actions and sentiments of others. With respect to the fine arts, some performances are said to be manly, and suitable to the dig. nity of human nature; others are termed low, mean, trivial. Such expressions are common, though they have not always a precise meaning. With respect to the art of criticism, it must be
a real acquisition to ascertain what these terms * truly import; which possibly may enable us to rank every performance in the fine arts accord. ing to its dignity.
Inquiringåfirst to what subjects the terms dig. nity and meanness are appropriated, we soon difcover, that they are not applicable to any thing inanimate: the most magnificent palace that ever was built, may be lofty, may be grand, but it has