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kindness which a person expresses for us, our first duty is, to perform the most for him by whom we are most beloved. Now we are to judge of kindness, not like children, by a sort of ardor of affection, but by its stability and constancy. But if its merits are such that we are not to court but to requite the kindness, the greater ought our care to be ; for there is no duty more indispensable than that of returning a kindness. Now if, as Hesiod enjoins, we ought, if it is in our power, to repay what we have received for mere use with interest, how ought we to act when called upon by kindness ? Are we not to imitate those fertile fields which yield far more than they have received ? For, if we readily oblige those who we are in hopes will serve us, how ought we to behave toward : those who have served us already ? For as generosity is of two kinds, the one conferring a favor, the other repaying it, whether we confer it or not is at our own option, but the not repaying it is not allowable in a good man, provided he can do so without injury to any. Now there are distinctions to be made as to the benefits received ; and it is clear that the greatest return is due in each case to the greatest obligation. Meanwhile, we are above all things to consider the spirit, the zeal, and the meaning with which a favor is conferred. For many confer numerous favors with a sort of recklessness, without any judgment or principle, upon all mankind promiscuously, or influenced by sudden perturbation of mind, as if by a hurricane : such favors aro not to be esteemed so highly as those which result from judgment, consideration, and consistency. But in conferring or requiting kindness, the chief rule of our duty ought to be, if all other circumstances are equal, to confer most upon the man who stands in greatest need of assistance. The reverse of this is practiced by the generality, who direct their greatest services to the man from whom they hope the most, though he may stand in no need of them.
XVI. Now society and alliances among men would be best preserved if the greatest kindness should be manifested where there is the nearest relation. But we ought to go higher, if we are to investigate the natural principles of intercourse and community among men. The first is, that which is perceived in the society of the whole human race, and of this the bond is speech and reason, which by teaching, learning, communicating, debating, and judging, conciliate men together, and bind them into a kind of natural society. There is nothing in which we differ more from the nature of brutes than in this; for we very often allow them to have courage, as for instance, horses and lions; but we never admit that they possess justice, equity, and goodness; because they are void of reason and speech. Now this is the kind of society that is most extensive with mankind among themselves, and it goes through all; for here a community of all things that nature has produced for the common use of mankind is preserved, so that they may be possessed in the manner proscribed by laws and civil statutes: of which laws themselves some are to be observed in accordance with the Greek proverb, “ that all things among friends are to be in common." Now this community consists of things which are of that nature which, though placed by Ennius under one head, may be applied to many. “He (says that author) who kindly shows the bewildered traveler
which affords none the less light to himself after it has lighted the other.”
By this single cxample he cufficiently enjoins on us to perform, even to a stranger, all the service we can do without detriment to ourselves. Of which service the following are common illustrations: “That we are to debar no man from the running stream ;" “ That we are to suffer any who desire it to kindle fire at our fire ;" “ That we are to give faithful counsel to a person who is in doubt:" all which are particulars that are serviceable to the receiver without being detrimental to the bestower. We are therefore to practice them, and be constantly contributing somewhat to the common good. As the means, however, of each particular person are very confined and the numbers of the indigent are boundless, our distributive generosity ought still to be bounded by the principle of Ennius—" it nevertheless gives light to one's self”-that we may still be possessed of the means to be generous to our friends.
XVII. Now the degrees of human society are many. For, to quit the foregoing unbounded kind, there is one more confined, which consists of men of the same race, nation, and language, by which people are more intimately connected
among themselves. A. more contracted society than that consists of men inhabiting the same city; for many things are in common among fellow-citizens, such as their forum, their temples, their porticos, their streets, their laws, their rites, their courts of justice, their trials, not to mention their customs, and intimacies, with a great number of particular dealings and intercourses of numbers with numbers. There is a still more contracted degree of society, which is that of relatives; and this closes, in a narrow point, the unbounded general association of the human race.
For, as it is a common natural principle among all animated beings that they have a desire to propagate their own species, the first principles of society consists in the marriage tie, the next in children, the next in a family within one roof, where every thing is in common. This society gives rise to the city, and is, as it were, the nursery of the commonwealth. Next follows the connection of brotherhood, next that of cousins, in their different degrees; and, when they grow too numerous to be contained under one roof, they are transplanted to different dwellings, as it were to so many colonies. Then follow marriages and alliances, whence spring more numerous relationships. The descendants, by this propagation, form the origin of commonwealths; but the ties and affcctions of blood bind mankind by affection.
For there is something very powerful in having the monu1 “Families are so many centers of attraction, which preserve mankind from being scattered and dissipated by the repulsive powers of selfishness. The order of nature is evermore from particulars to generals. As in the operations of intellect we proceed from the contemplation of individuals to the formation of general abstractions, so in the development of the passions, in like manner we advance from private to public affections; from the love of parents, brothers, and sisters, to those more expanded regards which embrace the immense society of human kind."
-Robert Hall's “ Sermon on Modern Infidelity.” In apparent opposition to this view stands the theory of President Edwards, which was afterward extensively adopted in an aggravated form. “True virtuo, according to him (says Sir James Mackintosh, “Progress of Ethical Philosophy'), consists in benevolence, or love to being 'in general,' which he afterward limits to 'intelligent being,' though sentient would have involved a more reasonable limitation. This good will is felt toward a particular being, first in proportion to his degree of existence ('for,' says he,
that which is great has more existence, and is further from nothing than that which is little),' and secondly, in proportion to the degree in which that particular being feels benevolence to others.” Perhaps thc ablest ments of our ancestors the same, in practicing the same religious rites, and in having the same places of interment. But among all the degrees of society, none is more excelrefutation of these principles, in a brief compass, is found in the following note by the Rev. Robert Hall in the Sermon above quoted. . “It is somewhat singular that many of the fashionable infidels have hit upon a definition of virtue which perfectly coincides with that of certain metaphysical divines in America, first invented and defended by that most acute reasoner, JONATHAN EDWARDS. They both place virtue exclusively in a passion for the general good; or, as Mr. Edwards expresses it, love to being in general ; so that our love is always to be proportioned to the magnitude of its object in the scale of being: which is liable to the objections I have already stated, as well as to many others which the limits of this note will not permit me to enumerate. Let it suffice to remark, (1.) That virtue, on these principles, is an utter impossibility; for the system of being, comprehending the great Supreme, is infinite : and, therefore, to maintain the proper proportion, the force of particular attachment must be infinitely less than the passion for the general good; but the limits of the human mind are not capablo of any emotion so infinitely different in degree. (2.) Sinco our views of the extent of the universe are capable of perpetual enlargement, admitting the sum of existence is ever the same, we must return back at each step to diminish the strength of particular affections, or they will becomo disproportionate, and consequently, on these principles, vicious; so that the balance must be continually fluctuating, by the weights being taken out of one scale and put into the other. (3.) If virtue consists exclusively in love to being in general, or attachment to the general good, the particular affections are, to every purpose of virtue, useless, and even pernicious ; for their immediate, nay, their necessary tendency is to attract to their objects a proportion of attention which far exceeds their comparative value in tho general scale. To allegt that the general good is promoted by them, will be of no advantage to the defense of this system, but the contrary, by confessing that a greater sum of happiness is attained by a deviation from, than an adherence to, its principles; unless its advocates mean by the love of being in general the same thing as the private affections, which is to confound all the distinctions of language, as well as all the operations of mind. Let it be remembered, we have no dispute respecting what is the ultimate end of virtue, which is allowed on both sides to be the greatest sum of happiness in the universe. The question is merely, what is virtue itself? or, in other words, what are the means appointed for the attainment of that end?
"Thero is little doubt, from some parts of Mr. Godwin's work, cntitled 'Political Justice,' as well as from his early habits of reading, that he was indebted to Mr. Edwards for his principal arguments against tho private affections; though, with a caring consistency, he has pursued his principles to an extreme from which that most excellent man would have revolted with horror. The fundamental error of the whole system arose, as I conceive, from a mistaken pursuit of simplicity: from a wish to construct a moral system, without leaving sufficient scope for the infi. lent, none more stable, than when worthy men, through a similarity.of manners, are intimately connected together; for, as I have often said, even when we discern the honestum in another it touches us, and makes us friends to the man in whom it resides.
Now, though virtue of every kind attracts and charms us to the love of those who possess it, yet that love is strongest that is effected by justice and generosity. For nothing is more lovely, nothing is more binding, than a similarity of good dispositions ;' because among those whose pursuits and pleasures are the same, every man is pleased as much with another as he is with himself, and that is effected which Pythagoras chiefly contemplates in friendship, “ that many become one." A strong community is likewise effected by good offices mutually conferred and received ; and, provided these be reciprocal and agrec
nite variety of moral phenomena and mental combination; in consequence of which its advocates were induced to place virtue exclusively in some one disposition of mind : and, since the passion for the general good is undeniably the noblest and most extensive of all others, when it was once resolved to place virtue in any one thing, there remained little room to hesitate which should be preferred. It might have been worth while to reflect, that in the natural world there are two kinds of attraction; one, which holds the several parts of individual bodies in contact; another, which maintains tho union of bodies themselves with the general system: and that, though the union in the former case is much more intimate than in the latter, each is equally essential to the order of the world. Similar to this is the relation which the public and private affections bear to each other, and their use in the moral system.
I "Friendship, founded on the principles of worldly morality, recog. nized by virtuous heathens, such as that which subsisted between Atticus and Cicero—which the last of these illustrious men had rendered immortalis fitted to survive through all the vicissitudes of life; but it belongs only to a union founded on religion, to continue through an endless duration. The former of these stood the shock of conflicting opinions, and of a revolution that shook the world; the latter is destined to survive when the heavens are no more, and to spring fresh from the ashes of the universe. The former possessed all the stability which is possible to sublunary things; the latter partakes of the eternity of God. Friendship, founded on worldly principles, is natural, and, though composed of the best elements of nature, is not exempt from its mutability and frailty; the latter is spiritual, and, therefore, unchanging and imperishable. The friendship which is founded on kindred tastes and congenial habits, apart from piety, is permitted by the benignity of Providence to embellish a world, which, with all its magnificence and beauty, will shortly pass away; that which has religion for its basis, will ere long be transplanted, in order to adorn the paradiso of God.”— Robert Hall's "Sermon on the death of Dr. Ryland."