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and liberated from all that was incongruous with it, it leads to a view considerably different from that which it was brought to support. For fitness to the moral nature of man, and not mere subservience to his enjoyments, had been the principle on which duties had been rested by the former defenders of independent morality; but this principle their successors were gradually allowing to slip away from their grasp. As the Cambridge men in general thus rejected the fitness of things, they were also indisposed to admit the Moral Sense. Though Warburton, as we have seen, was willing to accept the Moral Sense as a part of the forces belonging to the cause of virtue, the Cambridge moralists looked upon this new ally with suspicion, as incapable of being entirely reconciled to their philosophy. This feeling appears from a work in which the doctrine of the Moral Sense was noticed, and which shows that the opposite system was becoming a part of the habitual teaching of this place. I speak of an Essay on the Nature and Obligations of Virtue, published in 1744, by Dr Rutherforth, Fellow and Tutor of St John's College. It is dedicated to one of his former pupils, Anthony Thomas Abdy, Esq., of Lincoln's Inn; to whom he says, “There is little in the following sheets which you have not heard me explain, upon different occasions, while you were under my care at the University.” In this work he argues strenuously against Hutcheson's opinions. “The common and ordinary feelings of mankind, the senses and perceptions which are uppermost in the human constitution and are most attended to, plainly direct to private good, and instruct each individual to provide for himself in the best manner he can. But some of the later moralists,” he says, “think they have discovered another sense in man, as natural to him as these are, though less observed—an appetite for doing good; a sense which has virtue for its object, and gives a disinterested approbation of all her dictates; an affection which
though it may perhaps be overlooked by the careless, or lie uncultivated in the minds of the dissolute, will yet sometimes break out, and force even the most inattentive to take notice of the charms of virtue, and the most abandoned to admire them.” Hutcheson is referred to in the margin; and Ru. therforth proceeds to disprove the existence of this peculiar sense. And he afterwards goes on to lay down his moral principles on much the same basis as that with which we have since been so familiar:—that “Every man's happiness is the ultimate end which reason teaches him to pursue: and that the constant and uniform practice of virtue towards all mankind becomes our duty when revelation has informed us that God will make us finally happy in a life after this:” if we practise it. This is teaching which undoubtedly is true as far as it goes; and which would perhaps do little harm in practice, so long as it was employed on the side of good morals. But its inherent defectiveness cannot be concealed; for how does our obedience to God on this view differ from our obedience to an arbitrary tyrant invested with superior power, or from the service which the idolater renders to an impure and cruel deity? Undoubtedly no one can charge such writers as I have noticed with making any such monstrous confusion. But what I wish to remark is, that they do not give the distinction its due place in the foundation of their system, where it ought to appear. It is evident that the consideration which makes the difference between the cases is, that we have a moral esteem for the character and the law of the true God, as well as an obedience governed by his promises. We believe our Divine Ruler to be supremely holy, just, and good; and therefore we obey him with joy and love, as well as hope. But this distinction necessarily implies that we can form an idea of moral goodness, justice, holiness, quite other than obedience to the will of a superior; since it is only by combining these two elements that we obtain a true view of Christian virtue. And thus, when these two elements of virtue have been separated, asfor purposes of analysis they should be, if, instead of reuniting them in one common service, we reject and despise one of them, we obtain a mutilated and deformed system, which has no real stability or completeness. This view is very clearly expressed by Dr Waterland, who was Master of Magdalene College in this University, and was one of the ablest opponents of Clarke. “It may be asked,” he says”, “whether, if God had commanded men to be unjust and ungrateful, it would have been morally good to be unjust and ungrateful. To which I answer, that it is putting an absurd, self-contradictory supposition: for it is supposing a God that is not necessarily wise and good, a God and no God.” In this view all parties may unite:– but I confess, I do not think a genuine moralist, or even a person of genuine moral feeling, could really assent to what Waterland subjoins. “Abstract from the consideration of the Divine Law, and then consider what justice and gratitude would amount to. To be just or grateful so far as it is consistent or coincident with our temporal interest or convenience, and no farther, has no more moral good in it than paying a debt for our present ease in order to be trusted again; and the being further just and grateful without future prospects, has as much of moral virtue in it as folly or indiscretion has: so that the Deity once set aside, it is a demonstration there could be no morality at all.” I cannot but think this a very harsh and repulsive mode of stating that side of the question. Every person of generous mind must be revolted when he is told that to be just and grateful without future prospects has no more of good in it than any other folly and indiscretion has. If men will propound their opinions in such a form, we are obliged to answer them also in a way that may seem somewhat severe. If they hold, as Waterland here does, that an action of justice or gratitude proposed for the sake of a small future advantage has no moral character, they are surely quite inconsistent in maintaining that the same action derives its moral character from being performed with a view to an immeasurably great reward. If to aim at enjoyment in a future state on earth do not promote, but rather destroys the morality of our acts, how can they acquire a moral aspect from being directed towards the happiness of a future state, even in heaven : It will be replied, I believe, that this is so, because the happiness of heaven is inseparably connected with goodness: and thus we come round to the same point again; and thus too we see, as appears to me, how arbitrarily those speculators proceed who wish to separate these two considerations, which, as soon as they are called upon to justify themselves, they are compelled to reunite in order to make their doctrine tolerable.
DMUND Law's reasonings rather referred to the pre
vious than to the succeeding aspect of moral speculation. He was rather of importance as confuting opinions till then prevalent, than as anticipating doctrines afterwards generally accepted. But there was prefixed to his translation of King's Origin of Evil a dissertation which has a more manifest affinity with the succeeding course of Cambridge morality. This was a Dissertation concerning the Fundamental Principle of Virtue or Morality, anonymous, but written by Mr Gay, of Sidney College. This piece has been referred to by Mackintosh and others as entertaining an anticipation of the opinions afterwards put forwards by Hartley, respecting the results of the principle of the Association of Ideas; and in that point of view, it has an important place in the his. tory of the speculations upon that subject, to which Hartley's doctrines led, in Scotland and elsewhere : but I here consider Gay with reference to his place in the history of Cambridge moralists rather than metaphycians. Law, in his notes on The Origin of Evil, rejected the Clarkian doctrine of absolute relations, as the foundations of Right and Wrong, and made a considerable advance towards the morality founded merely upon the pleasure and pain resulting from actions. Law's speculations however were of the nature of the work on which he commented, mixed up with discussions concerning the a priori arguments respecting the being of God, and the most abstract considerations which the human mind can attain to, respecting space and time, cause and effect, good