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ment, mistook sophistry for reason, and disputation for wisdom. We must be satisfied to know some facts, without being able precisely to understand how to develop them. A result may be clear, where the process is concealed. To investigate mind, to trace its operations, to discover how it is wrought upon, as well as how it acts, is a noble and interesting study. But if on physics, we are obliged occasionally to be satisfied with a fact, without being capable of accounting for it, shall metaphysical research be always clear and undoubting? or shall any grand fact, relating to morals, be resigned, because we cannot trace the mode of its operation upon the human mind? The same rule applied to subjects, on the results of which no doubt is entertained, will be found to involve the same perplexities. The evidence of the senses is held unquestionable testimony; yet philosophers, when their inquiries are exhausted after the reasons assignable for the admission or rejection of their testimony, must be content at last to resolve it into the constitution of human nature; and to receive it as legitimate proof relative to those things which lie within the department of the senses. I have wished, therefore, to separate the inquiry after morals, so far as possible, from physical and metaphysical disquisition, and to associate it with facts, that we may obtain from these some information applicable to purposes of general utility.

It has been already seen that Pythagoras, and the earlier moralists, satisfied themselves with suggesting general rules for the regulation of the conduct, as precepts, admonitions, or doctrines, without combining them into theory, or inquiring far into their foundation and their sanctions. They rather produced them as self-evident propositions, addressed to a moral faculty, which could not fail to convince by their coincidence with this unknown and undefined principle. As a plain man would say to another, this is green, and this is blue; this is white, and this is black; without speculating on the theory of colours-simply addressing the senses these early sages contented themselves with appealing to the understanding and the heart, and saying, this is right, and this is wrong.

We shall take our former stand, and begin with Socrates. The grand distinction between this philosopher and others, was not simply that he arranged morals into a more perfect system, reducing to form the crude and mingled elements of his predecessors, although he was the first to do this since others, who succeeded him, organized Ethics still more carefully than he did, and would have borne from him the meed of praise, had this been his primary excellence-but the glorious characteristic of the philosophical labours of this great man, was, that they were practical-that they all tended to useful results, and

demanded active obedience. Speculative morality regards truth abstractedly; but the great study of Socrates was Man. His object was not merely to lead to an apprehension of truth, but to produce the practice of virtue. While, therefore, he sacrificed all other sciences to the study of morals, he separated from morals themselves, that which was speculative, retaining only that which was practical. In this, I apprehend, consisted his grand distinction and his chief excellence.

I would not be understood to insinuate that the speculative philosophers wholly withdrew their disquisitions from practical results. Plato affirms that "to philosophize is to know, to love, and to imitate God," and that "he deserves ill of philosophy, who lives not philosophically;" which is but saying, in other words, that the speculations which regard truth are unavailing, except they are also practical in morals. Seneca asks, therefore, "What is philosophy, but a law of life?*" Plutarch affirms, that "to be truly wise, is not only to understand what constitutes being, but to be engaged in what contributes to wellbeing.+" Epictetus charges his disciples, "not to tell the world that they were philosophers in words, but by deeds." Even Aristotle, who abounded so much in speculation, allowed the superiority of practical ethics. "Many," says this great man, "neglect these things, and, resorting to their reason, they philosophize, and so expect to be virtuous; resembling a man who should call in medical advice, listen attentively to the physician, but never follow his prescriptions: if speculation in the one case could not heal the body, in the other it will never cure the mind." All, therefore, allowed the necessity of practical over theoretical morality; but Socrates alone, excluding speculation, confined himself to the preceptive part of Ethics. And I have dwelt the more earnestly upon this, because, while he was the centre whence the different schools proceeded, we are not to expect any very accurate definition of principles from what is recorded as spoken by him, his whole study being to urge the practice, and to discountenance speculative philosophy.

Xenophon and Eschinus adhered precisely to the Ethics of Socrates, while various modifications admitted by others of his disciples gave birth to the different sects of the Ionic school successively: these again, as we shall now perceive, even from a superficial and hasty glance, originated the various bases which have been ass imed by modern writers on Ethics. Briefly to point out the evidences of this statement, by a rapid comparison between them, will occupy the remaining space of this

Epist. 90.

+ Plut. de plactit. philos. lib. 1. Arist. Eth. 1. 2. c. 4.

Lecture; which is but a continued sketch of the history of morals, embracing more particularly the separate or combined principles on which they have been usually enforced.

Aristippus, the Cyrenian, founded the sect called the Cyreniac; proposing happiness as the chief good. Antisthenes was the father of the Cynics, who taught that virtue was the principal thing. He was followed by Zeno, with whom the Stoics originated; whose principles accorded of course with this grand maxim, and with the general opinions of Socrates. Euclid gave birth to a sect called variously Megarics, Eristics, and Dialectics. Phædo established the Eleatic sect; and Plato, the most distinguished of all, was the founder of the Academics. Having gathered into one beautiful combination the scattered parts of philosophy, he distributed them into physics, morals, and logic; with the second of which we have to do. Plato makes happiness the chief end of moral prudence, which he branches out into comprehension of circumstances, promptitude and felicity of determination, and precautions relative to things which may arise, that they should not take us by surprise, nor impede the advancement of the individual towards this ultimate good. He calls this faculty by various names; dexterity of judgment, sagacity, a natural facility, a sort of intuitive science; he says that it is blended with, and perfected by, experience; and this combination alone forms the true philosopher. The self-reflection in which all this terminates is but another name for conscience. The rule

of moral prudence he affirms to be according to right reason, called also, the light, or law, of nature-the common law-and he refers it to the eternal law of nature, which, amidst the various laws of nations and their vicissitudes, continues uniform and the same; which, therefore, he calls Being (To ov) We find ourselves plunged at once into the various theories by which moralists have attempted to define Ethics: for whether the appeal be to sympathies, conscience, the moral sense, the fitness of things, or other bases, they all find some counterpart in this broad exposition of Plato, which he branches into endless ramifications as to their application. One thing is clear, he resolves them eventually into conscience, founding this innate principle, as the law of morals, upon the law of nature; which law again he ascribes as an effect of an eternal law which he calls sacred, and evidently assigns to the Deity. The conclusion conforms precisely with the great principle of Socrates; who associated indissolubly the maxims which were fitted for the regulation of human conduct with "sublime conceptions respecting the character and government of the Supreme Being; and called the first principles of virtuous conduct, which are common to all mankind-laws of God, from which,"

he says, ' no man departs with impunity." Conscience, or the moral sense, seems to have been the rule established by Socrates; and to this point, the elaborate and extended details of Plato visibly converge.

With this great master the different sects substantially agree. Aristotle, when his sentiments are di engaged from his logical and metaphysical subtilties, seems to divide virtue into two parts, theoretical and practical, the one exercising the understanding, the other tending to the active pursuit of that which is right and good, happiness being the end, and consisting in conformity to virtue. We arrive at the same conclusion-happiness the object; conscience and reason, allied and exercised, the rule of morals.

The Stoics traced morals to conformity to nature, and contended that circumstances had nothing to do with happinessthat pain was therefore no evil-that all external things were indifferent, for virtue was itself happiness. However preposterous is the argument, and untrue, as it violates the law of nature, by which man is so constituted as to be affected necessarily by circumstances, the object of morals is still the samehappiness. And what can be intended by conformity to nature, as the means of securing this happiness, which they represent as but another name for virtue, unless they believed that in nature a law was written, call it conscience, or moral sense, or by whatever other name may be preferred? Thus resolving, in effect, the rule into that assumed by Socrates, as well as agreeing with him in the object.

Widely removed as Epicurus appeared to be from the Stoics, he agreed in fact both as to the end of morals, and the means. Pleasure was with him but another term for happiness; since his pleasure professedly, and in respect of himself practically, consisted in virtue. His followers, who so grossly abused his system, and have attached such unmerited dishonour to his name, should have rather arranged themselves under the bauners of Aristippus, who, while he employed the term happiness, meant only pleasure, and referred pleasure to sensuality; with Protagoras, with Pyrrho, and those other atomists, who taught that the distinctions between virtue and vice are arbitrary-that nothing is just or unjust in itself that every thing depends upon human laws-and is in its own nature perfectly indifferent-and that to gratify himself, in whatever way his passions may stimulate him, is the only good of man. abominable sentiments, (for may we not so characterize them, when the very being of society is endangered by their adop tion?) have been charged upon Epicurus, and his memory loaded with a reproach, which it has borne from century to century, but which belonged to another, and totally distinct


party. These, too, are the conclusions to which the plausible, but dangerous doctrine of expediency will lead, if the principle be practically admitted, and honestly acted upon; and it would not be difficult to trace the analogy which actually subsists between a creed which avows the absolute indifference of right and wrong, and one which refers it to human passions and interests, to decide upon what is most expedient to the individual, who, constituted his own judge, will draw his inferences irrespective of society, according to the cupidity of his own imaginary interests or pleasures.

The Eclectic philosophers professed to take what was excellent from the various schools, without respect of party; and to combine into one grand system, the labours and opinions of those who preceded them, so far as these were conformable to truth and nature. But the execution of this design did not correspond with its pretensions; and it has been well observed, while they combined the dogmas of Aristotle and Zeno with the extravagance of the East, professing to found their general principles upon Plato, that they added nothing to the purity of Plato's ethics; and they increased the obscurity and mysticism of his physics and metaphysics.

I will only add, respecting the Stoics, that as they held but one substance in the universe, whether active or passive-as they called the active principle God-in making virtue consist in conformity to nature, they in effect agreed with those who lay, as the basis of morals, conformity to the Divine Will. In fine, Warburton has characterized the leaders of the Grecian sects of philosophers, with more accuracy than has sometimes been admitted, when he styled Plato the advocate of moral sense; Aristotle, of essential differences; and Zeno, of arbitrary will. The Academics and Stoics seem to divide the ancient moral world between them; while their contiguous boundaries discover how much they were once one, ranging under their mighty monarch Socrates. He was in the philosophical world what Alexander was in the political. The last subdued until no more remained to conquer, and when he died, left no hand sufficiently powerful to grasp the sceptre of his universal monarchy, composed of discordant elements, which he alone had the power to control and the skill to blend: when he expired, his empire was broken into fragments, and divided among his captains. So, when Socrates fell, his distinguished disciples, unable to retain the imperial authority which he had exercised over morals-a department so exclusively his own, that he seemed to have been created for it-each took the portion which his own genius or studies preferred, and while the separations became visible, they were not so formidable as to destroy the evidence that the whole had been once undivided.

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