Page images
PDF
EPUB

Serm. I. Respect it has to private Good, with the Rc

fpect it has to publick, since it plainly tends as much to the latter as to the former, and is commonly thought to tend chiefly to the latter. This Faculty is now mentioned meerly as another part in the inward Frame of Man, pointing out to us in some Degree what we are intended for, and as what will naturally and of course have some Influence. The particular Place assigned to it by Nature, what Authority it has, and how great Influence it ought to have, shall be hercafter considered.

From this Comparison of Benevolence and Self-love, of our publick and private Affections, of the Courses of Life they lead to, approved by the Principle of Reflection or Conscience, it is as manifest, that we were made for Society, and to promote the Happiness of it, as that we were intended to take Care of our own Life, and Health, and private Good.

And from this whole Review must be given a different Draught of Humane Nature from what we are often presented with. Mankind are by Nature so closely united, there is such a Correspondence between the inward Sensations of one Man and those of

another,

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

another, that Disgrace is as much avoided Serm. I. .as bodily Pain, and to be the Object of Esteem and Love as much desired as any external Goods: And in many particular Cases, Persons are carried on to do good to others, as the End their Affection tends to and rests in, and manifest that they find rcal Satisfaction and Enjoyment in this Course of Behaviour. There is such a natural Principle of Attraction in Man towards Man, that having trod the same Tract of Land, having breathed in the same Climate, barely having been born in the same artificial District or Division, becomes the Occasion of contracting Acquaintances and Familiarities many Years after; for any thing may serve the Purpose. Thus Relations meerly nominal are sought and invented, not by Governors, but by the lowest of the People, which are found sufficient to hold Mankind together in little Fraternities and Copartnerships : Weak Ties indeed, and what may afford Fund enough for Ridicule, if they are absurdly considered as the real Principles of that Union ; but they are in Truth meerly the Occasions, as any thing may be of any thing, upon which our Nature carries us on according to its own

с

pre

[ocr errors]

ture.

Serm. I. previous Bent and Bias; which Occasions

therefore would be nothing at all were there not this prior Disposition and Bias of Na

Men are so much one Body, that in a peculiar Manner they feel for each other, Shame, sudden Danger, Resentment, Honour, Prosperity, Distress; one or another, or all of these, from the social Nature in general, from Benevolence, upon the Occasion of natural Relation, Acquaintance, Protection, Dependance; each of these being distinct Cements of Society. And therefore to have no restraint from, no regard to others in our Behaviour, is the speculative Absurdity of considering ourselves as single and independant, as having nothing in our Nature which has respect to our Fellow-Creatures, reduced to Action and Practice. And this is the same Absurdity as to suppose an Hand, or any one Part, to have no natural Respect to any other, or to the whole Body.

But allowing all this, it may be asked, Has not Man Dispositions and Principles within, which lead him to do Evil as well as to do Good? Whence come the many Miieries else which Men are the Authors and Instruments of to each other. These

Questions,

[ocr errors]

Questions, so far as they relate to the fore-Scrm. I.
going Discourse, may be answered by ask-
ing, Has not Man also Dispositions and
Principles within, which lead him to do
Evil to himself as well as good? Whence
come the many Miseries else, Sickness, Pain
and Death, which Men are the Instruments
and Authors of to themselves! But as it
may be thought more easy to answer fome
of these Questions than others, though the
Answer to all of them is really the same,
it may be proper to add, that there is not
at all any such thing as Ill-will in one Man
towards another, Emulation and Resent-
ment being away, whereas there is plainly
Benevolence or Good-will: There is no
such thing as Love of Injustice, Oppression,
Treachery, Ingratitude, but only eager Desires
after such and such external Goods; which
according to a very ancient Observation, the
most abandoned would choose to obtain
by innocent Means, if they were as easy
and as effectual to their End: That even
Emulation and Resentment, by any one
who will consider what these Passions really
are in Nature *, will be found nothing to
C 2

the
* Emulation is meerly the Desire and Hope of Equality
with or Superiority over others, with whom we compare

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

our

Serm. I.the Purpose of this Objection: And that

the Principles and Passions in the Mind of Man, which are distinct both from Selflove and Benevolence, primarily and most directly lead to right Behaviour, and only secondarily and more remotely to what is Evil. Thus though Men to avoid the Shame of one Villany are sometimes guilty of a greater, yet it is easy to see, that the ori. ginal Tendency of Shame is to prevent the doing of shameful A&ions; and its leading Men to conceal such Actions when done, is only in consequence of their being done, i. e. of the Passion not having answered its first End.

If it be said that there are Persons in the World, who are in great Measure without the natural Affections towards their

Fellow

our felves. There does not appear to be any other Grief in the natural Passion, but only that Want which is implied in Desire. However this may be so strong as to be the Occasion of great Grief. To desire the attainment of this Equality or Superiority by the particular Means of others being brought down to our own Level, or below it, is, I think, the distinct Notion of Envy. From whence it is easy to see, that the real End, which the natural Passion Emulation, and which the unlawful one Envy aims at, is exa&ly the same; namely, that Equality or Superiority: And consequently, that to do Mischief is not the End of Envy, but meerly the Means it makes use of to attain its End, As to Refentment, see the Eighth Sermon.

« PreviousContinue »