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ately pleasant, to distinguish it from things which in themselves are not so, but either indifferent or disagreeable; which yet
the whole human kind, can it be virtuous while it repels all other created beings ? Or if, together with himself, he feels an affectionate attachment, in different and proportionate degrees, to every created being, but repels the Creator of all, can that forcible and orderly affection be denominated truly virtuous. If the reply be in the affirmative, then an atheist may be virtuous, which is absurd. Therefore attachment to the supreme Being, or to being in general, is essential to the very nature of true virtue.
7. No one yet denied, except those who deny the being of a God, that supreme love to him is virtuous, if any thing be so. The great Supreme is infinite, and if he ought not to be loved according to his greatness, what constitutes the crime of Idolatry? And if supreme love to an infinite being were inconsistent with subordinate attachments, we ought to extinguish the supremacy of our love to God, before we could discharge our duty to our fellow creatures, which every one must allow to be preposterous.
8 As the second objection is founded on the same principle which was assum. ed in the first, it has been already virtually answered. But it may be controverted on another account. That “extended views,” diminish the strength of particular affections does not appear consonant with experience Is it consistent with experience, that the acquisition of a second friend must rob the first of a moiety of his friendly affection? Does a parent experience any diminution of affection to a
first child, in proportion to a subsequent increase of number? Has a tenth child · but a tenth part of a mother's former affection to her first ? Does a man love
his neighbour the less because his views are extended to an infinite object? Or when the heart, or supremacy of affection, is fixed on God, is virtuous affection to man diminished ?
9. Besides, this objection proceeds on another gratuitous principle, viz that there may be true virtue, or virtuous affection, when our views of existence do not include God For if we view him, we view an object infinite and unchangeable, who is all in all, and the sum of existence That our views of the extent of the created universe are capable of perpetual enlargement, is no good reason why" particular affections” should fluctuate, become disproportionate, or vicious; any more than the love of God should constitute the love of our neighbour criminal. So that there is no necessity for “the balance to be continually fluctuating by the weights being taken out of one scale and put into the other ;" except it be by correcting past mistakes, as those do, who when grown up to manhood, put away childish things.
10. Virtuous love, however forcible to oneself, to relatives, to a nation, to mankind, or to the whole created universe, is not virtuous because of this particular, private, or limited attachment, but because of its tendency to God, except we prostitute the term virtue to signify something claimed equally by the worst and the best of men. And this general attachment, or love to God and universal being, does not at all counteract, or even lessen, the commendable force of private ones, any more than the force of general graviły tends to destroy the force of cohesion.
11. Mr H.'s third and last objection, like the preceding ones, rests on a mistaken apprehension of Mr. E.'s real sentiment. Mr. H. still consounds the nature of attachment with its degree. If virtue, according to Mr. E. consists exclusively in love to being in general, his meaning is, that no force of affection which has not universal being for its ultimate object, can be virtuous in the most proper sense of the word. He cannot mean that there is no virtuous love to particular beings; for, in perfect consistency with his views, even a love of ourselves may be virtuous, as well as a love of our neighbour. What he maintains then is, that the love of ourselves, of our neighbour, our nation, or any private system whatever, if detached from a tendency of affection to universal being, is not truly virtuous. And what is this, more or less, than what all judicious divines have maintained, that he who does not really love God, does not truly love bis neighbour ? If Mr. E. uses language more philosophically exact, and investigates the principle on which a commonly received truth is founded, he certainly deserves commendation rather than blame.
12. On Mr. E.'s principles, the particular affections are so far from being inseless," that their operations are not at all affected by those principles, except
appear eligible and agreeable indirectly, for something else with which they are connected. Such indirect agreeableness
in being more exalted and refined When the heart is enlarged to the love of being in general, it includes all particular objects; and then the attachment to them is for the sake of the whole system of being. Thus a truly virtuous love of our neighbour springs from our love to God; or without a supreme regard to God, there is no genuine, or in the highest sense, praiseworthy love to our neighbour. And so far are particular affections from being“ pernicious," on Mr. E.'s principles, that they are highly useful. Those objects which contain, or are apprehended to contain only a secondary beauty, attract a particular affection which is useful in various respects, as explained by our author; and those which contain the priri ary beauty, attract affections still more useful. For governors, and subjects, and friends, and relatives to feel attachment to their subjects, governors, friends, and relatives, must be useful, even when not virtuous; but when these attachments are animated, regulated, and ennobled by the love of God, or benevolence to universal being, they must be still more so. Benevolent affections are like a pleasant flame; a flame which is not lessened by an addition of fuel. Zeal at home is not found in fact to be weakened by the extension of zealous and benevolent affections abroad. National reform, and religious revival, will not be impeded by a truly benevolent missionary spirit. Neither will the love of God, or of universal being, prove detrimental to “particular affections."
13. Respecting the “particular affections,” Mr. H remarks, that “their immediate, nay their
necessary tendency is, to attract to their object a proportion of attention, which far exceeds their comparative value in the general scale.” But surely“ attention” is a very different thing from "attachment.” A man who is about to buy a horse, has his attention attracted very forcibly to the size, the shape, the age, and the action of the animal; but does this imply attachment ?' The word Satan may attract our "attention” to the malevolent being signified by it; but does this prove that the "immediate, nay the necessary tendency” of the word is to attract to this object any degree of "attachment ? It would be difficult to find either man, woman, or child, but has much“ attention attracted” to what he does not esteem, and to which he feels no attachment. If a person feels an attachment to any object not founded on the "comparative value” of that object. let the “particular affection" be denominated as we please, but let us not attach to it the idea of true virtue. For why should we be tempted to call that truly virtuous which has no relation to God, the object and fountain of all excellence ?
14. It is but justice to our author to say, that his definition of virtue, against which Mr. H. objects, by no means countenances that perversion of our powers which is but too justly ascribed to modern infidels. No one actingon the principles of this Dissertation will be less amiable in private life, than when acting on any others which Mr. H. might point out. This hypothesis, which we believe is the scriptural one, and which in substance has been maintained by theological writers and holy men of every age, pours no chilling influence on the affections, encourages no unscriptural disregards or antipathies in society, nor does it countenance any neglect of private duties under pretence of public utility We are assured by an authority from which, in the views of christians, there lies no appeal, that “ to love God with all our heart," is the first and great commandment. We would fain know, if knowable, wherein this requisition differs from that which is implied in Mr. E.'s notion of true virtue? Moreover, whether loving God with all our heart is calculated to render" the particular affections to every purpose of virtue, useless, and even pernicious ?” And once more, whether that act of the mind which is compatible with a rejection of what the divine oracle thus requires, can in any propriety of language, among christians, be termed virtuous ?
15. “To allege,” Mr. H. observes, “that the general good is promoted by them, will be no advantage to the defence of this system.” We apprehend he means, that some may be disposed to allow that the private affections, though not virtuous, may yet promote the general good, on some other account. But the objector is under a mistake if he supposes, as he apparently does, that Mr. E. held any notion of true virtue which will admit no private or “ particular affection” to be virtuous. In fact, the system explained in this Dissertation excludes no particular affection; but fully admits that any, yea, that all of them may be virtuous, by a proper direction. Supreme love to God, or attachment to universal being, 19
or eligibleness in things not for themselves, but for something else, is not beauty. But when a form or quality appears lovely, pleasing and delightful in itself, then it is called beautiful ; and this agreeableness or gratefulness of the idea is BEAUTY. It is evident that the way we come by the idea of beauty is by immediate sensation of the gratefulness of the idea called beautiful ; and not by finding out by argumentation any consequences, or other things with which it stands connected ; any more than tasting the sweetness of honey, or perceiving the harmony of a tune, is by argumentation on connections and consequences. The manner of being affected with the immediate presence of the beautiful idea, depends not on any reasonings about the idea after we have it, before we can find out whether it be beautiful or not; but on the frame of our minds, whereby they are so made that such an idea, as soon as we have it, is grateful, or appears beautiful.
virtue per se; but any other affection, however public or private, particular or general, is a virtue only relatively; that is, only so far as it is a tendency to universal being. When the affection terminates on any particular object, without any relation in its tendency to universal existence, it is not a mean of ultimate happiness in itself commendable, and therefore is not virtuous.
16. “We have no dispute,” says Mr. H.“respecting what is the ultimate end of virtue—the question is, What is virtue itself ?" Very true; what is it? We say a love, an attachment, or a tendency of mind, to general or universal existence; whatever be the immediate object of the will or affections If the affection be, for instance, that of a parent to a child, however strong in its operation, it is no farther truly virtuous, than there is a regard to God in it; or, a tendency to general being. But what is virtue itself, according to Mr. H.? The answer is not given. Had Mr. H. thought proper to give us a definition of virtue, we might compare notes, and form an estimate. It is much easier to find fault than to amend it; but this we feel disposed to promise, that if the objector produce what he thinks a better definition than what he opposes, we will endeavour to examine it with imparti. ality.
17. Mr. H. supposes that the auther of the work entitled “Political Justice," was “indebted to Mr. Edwards for his principal arguments against the private affections.” Surely that author must possess a most perverse kind of ingenuity, who could deduce any thing from the works of President EDWARDS against the private affections. Such ingenuity as an infidel sometimes employs, when he is indebted to the writers of the old or new testament for his principal arguments against religion, and in favour of infidelity.
18. “A mistaken pursuit of simplicity,” Mr. H. supposes, attaches to this sys. tem, whereby its advocates “place virtue exclusively in some one disposition of mind.” We conceive there is just as much propriety in this remark as in the following: A mistaken pursuit of simplicity led a certain writer to place conformity to law " exclusively” in some one disposition of mind, where he says, that the law is fulfilled in one word, Love. We are not aware that it is a matter of doubt, whether 'moral acts, and consequently virtue, proceed from the will, or the heart ?' And, as every exercise of will or affection is not virtuous, it requires no long“ pursuit of simplicity" to determine that the virtuous character of the affection must arise from its nature, rather than its degree; and from its being directed to a worthy, rather than an unworthy object.
19. Mr. H. illustrates his meaning by two kinds of attraction; and so does Mr E. illustrate his Private affections, or instincts, irrespective of their virtuous quality, may be represented by the attraction of cohesion, whereby the several parts of individual bodies are held in contact. A truly virtuous affection may be represented by the attraction of gravitation, which maintains the union of bodies themselves with the general system. And,“ though the union in the former case is much more intimate than in the latter," and "each is equally essential to the order of the world :" yet private affections, irrespective of their tendency to God, can with no more propriety be respected as virtues than cohesion can be termed gravitgtion.-W.
Therefore, if this be all that is meant by them who affirm that virtue is founded in sentiment, and not in reason, that they who see the beauty of true virtue do not perceive it by argumentation on its connections and consequences, but by the frame of their own minds, or a certain spiritual sense given them of God--whereby they immediately perceive pleasure in the presence of the idea of true virtue in their minds, or are directly gratified in the view or contemplation of this object—this is certainly true. But if thereby be meant, that the frame of mind, or inward sense given them by God, whereby the mind is disposed to delight in the idea of true virtue, is given arbitrarily, so that if he had pleased he might have given a contrary sense and determination of mind, which would have agreed as well with the necessary nature of things, this I think is not true.
Virtue, as I have observed, consists in the cordial consent or union of being to being in general. And that frame of mind, whereby it is disposed to relish and be pleased with the view of this, is benevolence or union of heart to being in general; or it is an universally benevolent frame of mind. Because he whose temper is to love being in general, must therein have a disposition to approve and be pleased with love to being in general. Therefore now the question is, Whether God, in giving this temper to a created mind, acts so arbitrarily, that there is nothing in the necessary nature of things to hinder, but that a contrary temper might have agreed or consisted as well with that nature of things as this?
And in the first place, to assert this would be a plain absurdity, and contrary to the very supposition. For here it is supposed, that virtue in its very essence consists in agreement or consent of being to being. Now certainly agreement itself to being in general must necessarily agree better with general existence, than opposition and contrariety to it.
I observe, secondly, that God in giving to the creature such a temper of mind, gives that which is agreeable to what is by absolute necessity his own temper and nature. For, as observed, God himself is in effect being in general; and without all doubt it is in itself necessary, that God should agree with himself, be united with himself, or love himself: and therefore, when he gives the same temper to his creatures, this is more agreeable to his necessary nature, than the opposite temper : yea, the latter would be infinitely contrary to his nature.
Let it be noted, thirdly, that by this temper only can created beings be united to, and agree with one another. This appears because it consists in consent and union to being in general; which implies agreement and union with every particular being,
except in such cases wherein union with them is by some means inconsistent with union to general existence. But certainly, if any particular created being were of a temper to oppose being in general, that would infer the most universal and greatest possible discord, not only of creatures with their Creator, but of created beings one with another.
Fourthly, There is no other temper but this, whereby a man can agree with himself, or be without self-inconsistence, i. e. without having some inclinations and relishes repugnant to others; and that for these reasons. Every being that has understanding and will, necessarily loves happiness. For to suppose any being not to love happiness, would be to suppose he did not love what was agreeable to him ; which is a contradiction: or at least would imply, that nothing was agreeable or eligible to him, which is the same as to say that he has no such thing as choice, or any faculty of will. So that every being who has a faculty of will, must of necessity have an inclination to happiness. And therefore, if he be consistent with himself, and has not some inclinations repugnant to others, he must approve of those inclinations whereby beings desire the happiness of being in general, and must be against a disposition to the misery of being in general: because otherwise he would approve of opposition to his own happiness. For if a temper in. clined to the misery of being in general prevailed universally, it is apparent, it would tend to universal misery. But he that loves a tendency to universal misery, in effect loves a tendency to his own misery: and as he necessarily hates his own misery, he has then one inclination repugnant to another. And besides, it necessarily follows from self-love, that men love to be loved by others; because in this others' love agrees with their own love. But if men loved hatred to being in general, they would in effect love the hatred of themselves; and so would be inconsistent with themselves, having one natural inclination contrary to another.
These things may help us to understand why that spiritual and divine sense, by which those who are truly virtuous and holy perceive the excellency of true virtue, is in the sacred scriptures called by the name of light, knowledge, understanding, &c. If this divine sense were a thing arbitrarily given, without any foundation in the nature of things, it would not properly be called by such names.
For if there were no correspondence or agreement in such a sense with the nature of things, any more than there would have been in a contrary sense, the idea we obtain by this spiritual sense could in no respect be said to be a knowledge or perception of any thing besides what was in our own minds. For this idea would be no representation of any thing without. But since it is agreeable, in the respects abovementioned, to the nature of things; and especially since