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persuaded, as far as the powers of my understanding can carry ine, that the phenomena of mind are governed by laws altogether as inevitable as the phenomena of matter, and that the decisions of our will are always in obedience to the impulse of the strongest motive.
The consequences of the principle implanted in our nature, by which men of every creed, when they descend into the scene of busy life, pronounce themselves and their fellow-mortals to be free agents, are sufficiently memorable.
From hence there springs what we call conscience in man, and a sense of praise or blame due to ourselves and others for the actions we perform. How poor,
listless and unenergetic would all our performances be, but for this sentiment! It is in vain that I should talk to myself or others, of the necessity of human actions, of the connection between cause and effect, that all industry, study and mental discipline will turn to account, and this with infinitely more security on the principle of necessity, than on the opposite doctrine, every thing I did would be without a soul. I should still
Whatever I may do, whether it be right or wrong, I cannot help it; wherefore then should I trouble the master-spirit within me? It is either the calm feeling of self-approbation, or the more animated swell of the soul, the quick beatings of the pulse, the enlargement of the heart, the glory sparkling in the eye, and the blood flushing into the cheek, that
sustains me in all my labours. This turns the man into what we conceive of a God, arms him with prowess, gives him a more than human courage, and inspires him with a resolution and perseverance that nothing can subdue.
In the saine manner the love or hatred, affection or alienation, we entertain for our fellow-men, is mainly referable for its foundation to the “ delusive sense of liberty.” “We approve of a sharp knife rather than a blunt one, because its capacity is greater. We approve of its being employed in carving food, rather than in maiming men or other animals, because that application of its capacity is preferable. But all approbation or preference is relative to utility or general good. A knife is as capable as a man, of being employed in purposes of utility; and the one is no more free than the other as to its employment. The mode in which a knife is made subservient to these purposes, is by material impulse. The mode in which a man is made subservient, is by inducement and persuasion. But both are equally the affair of necessityo.” These are the sentiments dictated to us by the doctrine of the necessity of human actions.
But how different are the feelings that arise within us, as soon as we enter into the society of our fellow-creatures! “The end of the commandment is love.” It is the going forth of the heart towards those to whom we are bound by the ties
• Political Justice, Book IV, Chap. VIII.
of a common nature, affinity, sympathy or worth, that is the luminary of the moral world. Without it there would have been “a huge eclipse of sun and moon;" or at best, as a well-known writer d expresses it in reference to another subject, we should have lived in “a silent and drab-coloured creation.” We are prepared by the power that made us for feelings and emotions ; and, unless these come to diversify and elevate our existence, we should waste our days in melancholy, and scarcely be able to sustain ourselves. The affection we entertain for those towards whom our partiality and kindness are excited, is the life of our life. It is to this we are indebted for all our refinement, and, in the noblest sense of the word, for all our humanity. Without it we should have had no sentiment (a word, however abused, which, when properly defined, comprises every thing that is the crown of our nature), and no poetry.—Love and hatred, as they regard our fellow-creatures, in contradistinction to the complacency, or the feeling of an opposite nature, which is excited in us towards inanimate objects, are entirely the offspring of the delusive sense of liberty.
The terms, praise and blame, express to a great degree the same sentiments as those of love and hatred, with this difference, that praise and blame in their simplest sense apply to single actions, whereas love and hatred are produced in us by the
d Thomas Paine.
sum of those actions or tendencies, which constitute what we call character. There is also another difference, that love and hatred are engendered in us by other causes as well as moral qualities; but praise and blame, in the sense in which they are peculiarly applied to our fellow-mortals, are founded on moral qualities only. In love and hatred however, when they are intense or are lasting, some reference to moral qualities is perhaps necessarily implied. The love between the sexes, unless in cases where it is of a peculiarly transient nature, always comprises in it a belief that the party who is the object of our love, is distinguished by tendencies of an amiable nature, which we expect to see manifesting themselves in affectionate attentioris and acts of kindness. Even the admiration we entertain for the features, the figure, and personal graces of the object of our regard, is mixed with and heightened by our expectation of actions and tones that generate approbation, and, if divested of this, would be of small signification or permanence. In like manner in the ties of affinity, or in cases where we are impelled by the consideration, “He also is a man as well as I," the excitement will carry us but a little way, unless we discover in the being towards whom we are moved some peculiarities which may beget a moral partiality and regard.
And, as towards our fellow-creatures, so in relation to ourselves, our moral sentiments are all in
volved with, and take their rise in, the delusive sense of liberty. It is in this that is contained the peculiar force of the terins virtue, duty, guilt and desert. We never pronounce these words without thinking of the action to which they refer, as that which might or might not be done, and therefore unequivocally approve or disapprove in ourselves and others. A virtuous man, as the term is understood by all, as soon as we are led to observe upon those qualities, and the exhibition of those qualities in actual life, which constitute our nature, is a man who, being in full possession of the freedom of human action, is engaged in doing those things which a sound judgment of the tendencies of what we do pronounces to be good.
Duty is a term that can scarcely be said to have a meaning, except that which it derives from the delusive sense of liberty. According to the creed of the necessarian, it expresses that mode of action on the part of the individual, which constitutes the best possible application of his capacity to the general benefite. In the mean time, if we confine ourselves to this definition, it may as well be taken to describe the best application of a knife, or any other implement proceeding from the hands of the manufacturer, as of the powers of a human being. But we surely have a very different idea in our minds, when we employ the term duty. It is not agreeable to the use of language that we should use
Political Justice, Book I1, Chap. IV.