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If the foregoing hypothesis be received, it will now be easy for us to determine the question first started *, concerning the general principles of morals; and though we postponed the decision of that question, left it should then involve us in intricate speculations, which are unfit for moral difcourses, we may resume it at present, and examine how far either reason or sentiment enters into all de. cigions of praise or censure.
One principal foundation of moral praise being supposed to lie in the usefulness of any quality or action; it is evident, that reason must enter for a considerable share in all decisions of this kind; since nothing but that faculty can instruct us in the tendency of qualities and actions, and poinť out their beneficial consequences to society and to their possessor. In many cases, this is an affair liable to great controversy : Doubts may arise ; opposite interests may occur ; and a preference must be given to one side, from very nice views, and a Imall overbalance of utility. This is particularly reinarkable in questions with regard to justice; as is, indeed, natural to suppose, from that species of utility, which attends this virtue f. Were every single instance of justice, like that of benevolence, useful to society i this would be a inore simple ! Vol. II.
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state of the case, and seldom liable to great controversy, But as single instances of justice are often pernicious in their first and immediate tendency, and as the advantage to society results only from the observance of the general rule, and from the concurrence and combination of several persons in the same equitable conduct; the case here becomes more intricate and involved. The various circumítances of society; the various consequences of any practice; the various interests, which may be proposed : These, on many occafions, are doubtful, and subject to great, discuslion and enquiry. The object of municipal laws is to fix all the questions with regard to justice : The debates of civilians; the reflections of politicians; the precedents of history and public records, are all directed to the same purpose. And a very accurate reason or judgment is often requisite, to give the true determination, amidst such intricate doubts arising from obscure or opposite utilities.
But though reason, when fully assisted and improved, be sufficient to instruct us in the pernicious or useful tendency of qualities and actions ; it is not alone sufficient to produce any moral blame or approbation. Utility is only a tendency to a certain end; and were the end totally indifferent to us, we should feel the same indifference towards the means. It is requisite a sentiment should here display itself, in order to give a preference to the useful above the pernicious tendencies. This fenment can be no other than a feeling for the happiness of inankind, and a resentment of their misery; since these are the different ends which virtue and vice have a tendency to promote. Here, therefore, reason initructs us in the several tendencies of actions, and humanity makes a distinction in favour of those which are useful and beneficial.
This partition between the faculties of understanding and sentiment, in all moral decisions, seems clear from the preceding hypothesis. But I shall suppose that hypothesis false: It will then be requisite to look out for some other theory, that may · be sațisfactory; and I dare venture to affirm, that none such will ever be found, so long as we suppose reason to be the sole source of morals. To prove this, it will be proper to weigh the five following considerations.
I. It is easy for a false hypothesis to maintain some appearance of truth, while it keeps wholly in generals, inakes use of undefined terms, and employs comparisons, instead of instances. This is particularly remarkable in that philosophy, which afcribes the discernment of all moral distinctions to reason alone, without the concurrence of sentiment. It is impossible that, in any particular instance, this hypothesis can so much as be rendered intelligible; whatever specious figure it may make in general declamations and discourses. Examine the crime of ingratitude, for instance; which has place, wherever we observe good-will, expressed and known, together with good-offices performed, on the one side, and a return of ill-will or indifference, with ill-offices or neglect on the other: Anatomize all these circumstances, and examine, by your reason alone, in what consists the demerit or blame : You never will come to any issue or conclusion.
Reason judges either of matter of faxt or of relations. Enquire then, first, where is that mat, ter of fact, which we here call crime ; point it out ; deterinine the time of its existence ; describe its essence or nature; explain the sense or faculty, to which it discovers itself: It resides in the mind of the person, who is ungrateful. He must, therefore, feel it, and be conscious of it. But nothing
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is there, except the passion of ill-will or absolute
When it is affirmed, that two and three are equal to the half of ten; this relation of equality, I understand perfectly. I conceive, that if ten be divided into two parts, of which one has as many units as the other; and if any of these parts be compared to two added to three, it will contain as many units as that compound number. But when you draw thence a comparison to moral relations, I own that I ain altogether at a loss to understand