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Injustice tends to diffolve society, by destroying that peace and concord, that love and unity, which are the band and cement of it. Who can have any affection for, or maintain any friendship with a person who will not suffer him to possess that which is his own, but some how or other deprives him of the use and enjoyment of ic ? Such a conduct must at least create a coldness and shyness, if not downright strife and contention. A man to be sure will shun such a person, and keep at a distance from him, if he does not declare open war and hostility against him. Now if acts of injustice are so injurious to sociecy ; it must certainly be highly reasonable to abstain from them, and to practise the contrary virtue of justice, which naturally cends to produce a good understanding, and to preserve peace and concord amongst men.
But I need not enlarge upon the proof of the righteousness of this virtue, for ic derives its very name from the equicy of the thing. To render to every one what is his, and perinit him quietly to enjoy it, are things in themfelves so juft and right, that mankind hath agreed to give the name of justice or righteousness to that temper of mind which disposes to the practice of them.'.
I proceed now to prove the righteouf ness of those precepts which enjoin truth and fidelity, and gratitude to our benefactors, which are parts of justice as much as that which is strictly so called. Truth is twofold, logical and moral. Logical truth is the conformity of our words to the reality of things. Moral truth is only the conformity of our words to our thoughts, or a 1peaking according to the persuasion of our own minds, whether that be conformable to the reality of things or no. We are not under the same obligation to the former as to the latter, because to speak according to the reality of things may not always be within our power. Inasmuch as we are fallible creatures, and liable to error, we often receive falfe notions of things ; and then we cannot (with integrity at least) speak of them as they really are. With integrity, I say ; because it is indeed poflible for us to speak according to the reality of things, when we ourselves have entertained false notions about them. For example: I may say that which is really true, when at the same time I believe it to be false: but in that, case my speaking the truth is no virtue in me, becaufe it is accidental only, and, not designed : nay, it is so far from being a virtue, that it i$ indeed. a vice ; because it is speaking contrary to what I believe to be true, and doing what I can towards leading people into a miltake.
But tho-logical truth be not always within our power, upon account of our fallibility; yet moral truth always is. We need never speak contrary to our thoughts, tho we cannot always speak according to the reality of things. Now this is all that virtue obligeth us to; viz. to speak as we think, or not to speak otherwise than we think. And is not this fit and decent ?. What were words designed for ? were they not to be the signs of our ideas ? Shall we then pervert them from their original intention; and instead of communicating our real sentiments by them, make use of them to convey something contrary thereto ? This would be unnatural, and therefore indecent : buç to speak as we think, and to make our words the real images of our minds, this is to follow nature, wa CC R .2
and consequently to do that which is comely and fit to be done.
The same may be said concerning fidelity, which consists in the performance of our promises and contracts. As truth is a conformity of our words to our thoughts, so fidelity is a conformity of our actions to our words. And is it not as fit that our actions should correspond to our words, as that our words should correspond to our thoughts? Nature directs us to the one as much as to the other; and therefore the one is as decent as the other. Not to fulfil our promises is in effect to deny that we made any such promises.; which is to be guilty of a lye ; the indecency whereof hath been shewn already.
We shall be still more convinced of the righteousness of those precepts which enjoin truth and fidelity, if we consider how useful these virtues are in society, and how necessary to the support of it. They are useful both to the persons who practise them, and to those with whom they converse. 'Tis certain that truth and faithfulness are useful to the persons who practise them. I am speaking of the ordinary course of things : and here it is easy to observe, that how much soever men neglect these virtues themselves, they cannot forbear applauding and commending them in others. A strict regard to truth hach a natural tendency to procure à man credit and reputation in the world : if men are false and deceitful themselves, they love to deal with persons of a contrary character: as bad as the world is, it is not yet come to that pass, as to prefer liars and knaves before sincere and honest men. We naturally Thun the correspondence of the former, but seek that of the latter. What man is there who chuses to have conversation with a liar? who will repose any confidence in a man who makes no conscience of his word ? When we want advice in any case, or have occasion to lodge any thing belonging to us in the hands of others, or to commit the management of our affairs to them, we apply ourselves not to false and deceitful, but to sincere and faithful men, who speak their real sentiments of things, and fulfil their engagements. From hence it follows, that the virtues of truth and faithfulness are useful to the persons who practise them ; because the practice of them advances their character in the world,