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converted into avarice, and become indirectly an incentive to the most horrid vices. There are passions which originate in habit ; every habit gives rise to an attendant passion, which impels to the indulgence of the habit. Vicious habits are attended with vicious passions, many of which have the most pernicious consequences in society. Such passions have no pretence of being natural or original, in the mind of man. The habits from which they are derived, are formed in the mind, through the neglect or abuse of some natural power, faculty, or propensity. They may like every vice be admitted or excluded at the election of the mind ;-they may, therefore, withthe greatest propriety, be denominated, adventitious. That any of the passions, faculties, or propensities of man may be abused, proves only that he is a moral agent capable, in his actions, of choosing between good and evil, or that he is imperfect and liable to deception, and sometimes to aberrations from virtue, without designing the consequences. Were it an objection to any passion, propensity, power, or faculty, that it might be abused to the injury of mankind, not one would escape condemnation. The faculty of reason would not be exempt. Generosity must be accounted an evil, because it sometimes misjudges and sometimes turns to prodigality.

Upon a candid view of the whole subject, the conclusion is undeniable, that man is, by the laws of his common nature as constituted by the Author of his being, fitted for a state of society and social improvements; that his happiness depends on the right use of his passions, appetites, powers, and faculties agreeable to the laws of social nature ; that as a moral being, capable of vicious as well as virtuous actions, he may deviate from his destination, and disturb his own happiness, as well as the happiness of others.




Of the moral faculty, or moral constitution of man.

In the preceding book, we have seen that man, as far as depends on his natural appetites, powers, and propensities, is fitted, and intended, for the social state. We shall now inquire, how far he is fitted for government,—to be the subject of civil institutions and laws.

The first thing, that presents itself in this inquiry, is the moral faculty, or the moral constitution of man; moral perception or the power of discerning what is morally right or wrong in human actions, both as it relates to himself and others; and a sense of obligation to do what is right accordingly, and to forbear what is wrong. Without such power of perception and sense of obligation, he could not be a subject of government, could be subject to no laws, human or divine, except to the laws of instinct and to those physical laws, which are appointed for the lower orders of the animal creation, and which are to them, laws of necessity, not of obligation. I shall endeavor to investigate fully, but with as much brevity as is consistent with perspicuity, the nature of that constitution, the origin of the moral faculty, and the nature of moral obligation, and in what way it renders him a proper subject of government and laws.

Before entering upon this inquiry I shall briefly notice some opinions of Mr. Paley, who sustains a very eminent character as a moral writer. In his treatise of moral philosophy, he very justly discards the notions of innate maxims, of an instinctive perception of moral right and wrong, or what may be called a moral instinct. He admits that man has, from nature, a capability of attaining the perception of moral right and wrong, and accounts for his approbation of the one and disapprobation of the other, in the following manner. “Having experienced in some instances, a particular conduct to be beneficial to ourselves, or observed that it would be so, a sentiment of approbation arises in the mind, and which sentiment afterwards accompanies the idea or mention of the same conduct, although the private advantage, which first excited it, no longer exists,” and e converso of a conduct injurious. He farther attributes the continuation of such sentiments, or as I understand him, their propagation, and what renders them common in society, to imitation, of which he says—" The efficacy of this principle is most observable in children; indeed, if there is anything in them, which deserves the name of instinct, it is the propensity to imitation.” However just these observations may be, and however applicable to the manner in which moral sentiments become habitual, and the manner in which they are frequently propagated, they do not at all serve to explain the original principle of the moral faculty, in the common nature of man.

That there is such a common principle, is evident from the common and universal effect.—Every man endued with human faculties is found capable of moral sentiments, and of attaining the perception of the moral quality of actions. This common principle, I shall endeavor, presently, to demonstrate. The same author when treating of moral obligation, says, “When I first turned my thoughts to moral speculations, an air of mystery appeared to hang over the whole subject, which arose, I believe, from hence, that I supposed, with many authors, whom I had read, that to be obliged to do a thing was very different from being induced to do it, and that the obligation to practice virtue, do what is right, just &c., was quite another thing and another kind, than the obligation, which the soldier is under to obey his officer, a servant his master, or any of the other civil and ordinary obligations of

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human life ; whereas it appears from what has been said, that it is like all other obligations, and that obligation is nothing more than an inducement of sufficient strength, and resulting from the command of another.” He had before given what he calls a definition of virtue, that it is “ the doing good to mankind, in obedience to the will of God, for the sake of everlasting happiness,"—and a definition of obligation,—“A man is said to be obliged, when he is urged by a violent motive resulting from the command of another." I do not know that any one, who has at all considered the subject, has supposed that obligations differ in kind, but in species. A general definition, if correct, is true of all the species comprehended in the general term, but cannot mark their specific distinction; and when it becomes necessary or proper to mark their specific distinctions, something must be added to the general definition. It is true that moral obligation is superinduced upon every legitimate obligation or blended with it; but I believe that Mr. Paley would not have hazarded the assertion, that all civil obligations, and moral obligations, are specifically the same, and that the world have hitherto been amused with distinctions merely nominal. I will here only point out a marked distinction between civil and moral obligation, which will be more fully explained in another place. Civil obligation is considered as fulfilled by the mere performance or forbearance of the act enjoined or prohibited, without regard to the intention of the agent; but moral obligation cannot be fulfilled as such, without the good intentions of the agent; and besides, moral obligation is much more comprehensive than civil obligation. In these definitions, and indeed in his whole account of the moral constitution of man, although he makes his duty to consist in doing good to mankind, yet Mr. Paley seems not sufficiently to have considered him as a social being by the constitution and laws of his nature ; that the social affections are necessary to that moral constitution, and that without them he could not be the subject of moral obligation. Accordingly, when he introduces the principle of utility, which is indeed the end of all moral laws, he leaves it a mere selfish principle, with the agent. Besides, his plan of treating actions in the abstract and that only, according to


his own confession, excludes the intention of the agent, without which actions are neither virtuous nor vicious; in fine, have no moral quality, but are to be considered, as merely useful or detrimental, as chance directs.

Let us inquire, what, according to his definition of virtue and obligation, is the inducement.--Is it the will or command of God ? the consequence alone? or both united ? The consequence alone replies the author. “We can be obliged to nothing but what we ourselves are to gain or lose something by it; for nothing else can be a violent motive to us. As we should not be obliged to obey the laws or the magistrate, unless reward or punishments, pleasure or pain, somehow or other, depended on our obedience ; so neither should we, without the same reason, be obliged to do what is right, practice virtue, obey the commands of God.” But this motive must result from the command of another; in the case of moral obligation, from God. On this same plan, that the motive must result from the command of another, can only be explained to mean a firm belief that the author of the command has the power and the will to reward the obedient and punish the disobedient. Do the sentiments of the mind, under a sense of moral obligation respond to this? I think not. The sense of desert, of praise or blame, due to our conduct, seems not to be consistent with it; or at least to intimate that something more is wanting. Why do we feel ourselves accountable to God, or to our fellow men ? Is that sense of accountability to be resolved into a mere dread of power ? or is it a mere sentiment of regret for what we may lose ? or of pleasure for what we may gain ? and shall we for merit and demerit, substitute useful and injurious to ourselves, and consider our accountability as a mere account of profit and loss ?

What then is wanting in this system ? Clearly the affections, which involve the disposition and intention of the agent, and which, as he tells us in a note, his plan excluded, and at the same time acknowledges that the agent is virtuous or vicious according to his design, or, which is the same thing, actions as they relate to the agent are virtuous or vicious according to that design ; from hence they derive their moral quality.—But he tells us at the same time, that actions are right or wrong according to their

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