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is right. It is the utility alone of any one of your orders which constitutes the obligation of it. Every man is to judge of them for himself. Consequently your directions respecting the arch and the dome, appearing to me inexpedient, I was at liberty, and even obliged in conscience, to disobey them.”
THE PRINCIPLE OF EXPEDIENCY PROVED TO BE FALSE, FROM A CONSIDERATION OF THE MORAL CONSTITUTION OF MAN.
It is not enough that we shew the incapability of man, arising from his very limited faculties, and his comparative ignorance, to make utility the sole rule of his conduct. We shall find, that by recalling to our recollection what has been already noticed concerning his moral powers and principles, we shall be led to the same conclusion.
We are so formed that we approve or disapprove of actions as right or as wrong, as praiseworthy or blameworthy, before a thought has entered our mind as to their tendency. The deed of heroism which calls forth our approval before we have time to reflect on the ground on which our approbation is bestowed, and the act of self-devotion by which the martyr to pure religion does homage to his God and his conscience, immediately commend themselves to our hearts. Who has ever withheld his admiration from Leonidas and his chosen band, till he has thought of the good which their example in all coming ages was to confer
OF THE MEASURE, OR RULE OF VIRTUE.
By the will of God, we understand the determination or the pleasure of Him who is holy, and just, and good, and whose determinations and enactments, there. fore, are founded in justice and in judgment. Few will deny that his will is the measure or rule of obligation to all intelligent and accountable creatures. While this is manifested to us in various ways, it is comprehensively and definitely expressed in that perfect law which he has given us, as the measure of virtue and the rule of conduct.
Before proceeding to point out the perfection of this law, arising from its intrinsic excellency, and the universality of its application, and to prove that it is the only infallible rule to man, I shall make a few observations on the doctrine of expediency, which, according to some, furnishes the rule and the standard of moral 'conduct.
According to this doctrine, the sole measure of the right or the wrong of every action, is utility, while, at the same time, the agent is the sole judge of that utility. In modern times it has been maintained, if not first, at least, with the greatest ability, by Mr. Hume, and afterwards by Dr. Paley. It is but just, however, to remark, that while they are agreed as to the principle, they greatly differ as to the source from whence it is derived, and the grounds on which its
previous description. She confesses that the obligation of every law depends upon its ultimate utility; that this utility having a finite and determinate value, situations may be feigned, and consequently may possibly arise, in which the general tendency is outweighed by the enormity of the particular mischief.”
Mr. Hume, the most distinguished advocate of the doctrine of expediency in modern times, and from whom Mr. Paley derived it, expresses himself in regard to it in the following terms, in his Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals. “ Are not justice, fidelity, honour, veracity, allegiance, chastity, esteemed solely on account of their tendency to promote the good of society? Can it possibly be doubted, that industry, discretion, frugality, secrecy, order, perseverance, forethought, judgment, and that whole class of virtues, of which many pages could not contain the catalogue ; can it be doubted, I say, that the tendency of these virtues to promote the interest and happiness of their possessor, is the sole foundation of their merit?-I cannot be more assured of any truth, which I learn from reason and argument, than that virtue consists altogether in the usefulness or agreeableness of qualities to the person himself possessed of them, or to others, who have any intercourse with him *."
The doctrine of expediency is quite as objectionable in the hands of Dr. Paley as it was in those of Mr. Hume. While there is an avowed deference to the will of God and to the authority of scripture, there is a real departure from botlı; and views of utility, of
* Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals. Ed. 1751, p. 185, 186.'