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infinite varieties are produced in individuals, but the one element never wholly overcomes the other,-Position never entirely changes Nature, Nature never wholly conquers Position. We have been so careful in laying out precisely, and illustrating this example, that our readers may clearly see, that wherever there exists organized life, then, if we would examine the state of the individual existence, these two elements must always be taken into account,-first, Nature, and secondly Position.
So it is with all organized life. The Horse, in the dry deserts of Arabia, in the damp climate and succulent pastures of Holland and Flanders, upon the high Pampas of South America, and again, upon our South-western Prairies,-in all these cases, the animals are very different. And in them, all the variety can be shown to have arisen from Position. The Nature can be proved to be the same in all, and the circumstances even be shown, in each particular case, that have modified it into such very different forms.
And upon this principle, all our researches into the nature of the animals are founded. We examine the Nature first, -that is, the organization in its various faculties and organs, its elements, powers, and constituent principles. Then we examine its Position,-the relation, that is, of all these to the circumstances of the country in which it dwells, -as to climate, and soil, and natural features, such as mountains and rivers, and their productions, animal, mineral and vegetable. And often, when in the Nature we have seen organs and faculties, the uses of which we could not at once discern, the consideration of Position shall at once flash light upon these problems, and again the facts of Nature evince the causes of Position. Nay, stranger still than this,—it has often happened in the case of animals that have been for ages tamed to the use of man, that the circumstances, which in the original habitat surrounded them, have explained facts of their natural action that seemed unaccountable to them who had seen them only as tame. The law of Nature and Position is an universal one, and is the foundation of all true philosophy in reference to organized animal life.
To extend the same principle upward to the Life of Man, to apply it to his Moral Being, is the object of this book. It is, as the reader may see, the principle of the motto, that I have chosen from Ecclesiasticus and placed upon my title-page, that says, “ All things are double, one
against another, and there is nothing imperfect." In other words, that there is no finite being that in itself has its perfection; but only in being compared with a second can it be perfectly understood,—only in being united with another, can it perfectly fulfill its appointed ends,only in obtaining from some other, that which it has not in itself, can it be perfect. This principle of Twofoldness, any thinking man shall, upon calm and deep reflection, see to run through the world of created life. He shall see it, in reference to man, to be true in the words of my second motto, that “Man's perfection is not by himself, nor by anything in or of himself, but by that which is to him external.” The Law of Duality, or to use a better word, before employed, of Twofoldness, extends to man as considered in every relation, as in the Home, in the Nation, in the Church,—as in his relation to External Nature, to his brother men, and to his Almighty Creator and Father.
The application of this principle to the moral nature of man, will be found to be the leading idea of this treatise, that from which all its other principles flow,—that in whose light, all the phenomena of our Moral Being are viewed, and by which they are explained.
We take it for granted herein, that man has a Moral Nature and constitution, as well as an animal and intellectual being; and that to man as a moral being there are external facts and institutions that correspond to this moral nature. This treatise seeks to discover, define, and specify. distinctly, the various faculties of the moral constitution of man, to classify them that they may assume a definite, scientific, and practical form. And to do this, it considers them in the two-fold point of view, as in themselves first, and secondly, their relation to those other external fixed facts, which bear upon Moral Life, as the external circumstances of physical nature do upon the powers of vegetable or animal existence. This, as I have said, is my leading principle, and in reference to this is, that I define Ethics to be “the Science of Man's Nature and Position.”
And I can appeal to the Self-knowledge of every thoughtful man for the proof of the position I assume, that man is a being that has a Moral Constitution, composed of clear and definite elements, -and that this Moral Nature answers to, and is to be explained by moral influences and facts external to us. That this is the case with man considered as
2 race and as an individual, and that his moral growth depends upon these two conditions.
And he that shall go with me through this treatise, I hope will find that moral science is not without a deep interest. For surely, each man in this world who knows that he is endowed with a Moral Nature, and is placed amidst circumstances, all of which may have a moral effect, must think the question to be deeply interesting, “ How shall I so cultivate this my Nature, and so employ this my Position, as to arrive at the fullest maturity and completeness of my moral being, that I am capable of ?”
This is the question the author attempts to answer in this book, as a matter both of science, and also of practical action and guidance.