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avarice, each implying an external object of desire, the reflex action of which influences the will. And as for the class of sentiments designated by the compounds of self, these may all be resolved into different forms of self-consciousness; and self-consciousness is an essential condition of every desire or sentiment, while self-love, in its largest sense, may be assumed as the connecting formula between every spring of action and the will. This entire class of sentiments might, then, better be distributed, according to their respective aims and ends, among the mental desires and the moral sentiments.
The various springs of action operate with different degrees of intensity upon different individuals. But reason is conceived of as the same in all persons, as to its decisions and results; and the common reason of mankind leads to the establishment of such rules of action as shall confine the several springs of action to their just places in the economy of individual and social being. Moral rules exist of necessity ; for “we cannot conceive man as man, without conceiving him as subject to rules, and making part of an order in which rules prevail.” Man does not create society, but is born for it and into it. Society is as essential an element of human nature, as reason or conscience. And there can be Do society, unless it have for its basis rules, enacted by the common reason, which shall so circumscribe and balance the springs of action in each individual, as to leave certain essential objects of desire open to the attainment of all. Actions derive their value from their ends; and a subordinate end derives its value from a higher end which it promotes. In assigning reasons for our rules of action, we pass successively from lower to higher ends, till we arrive at the Supreme Good as the ultimate end. This supreme good is rather the limit than the expression of our conceptions of the desirable. We cannot define it ; but in our rules of action, we constantly aim at it and approximate towards it. The supreme good implies a supreme rule of action, — the sum and archetype of all our approximate rules ; and with reference to the supreme rule we conceive of actions as right and wrong, terms which are indefinable, and represent certain ultimale ideas that underlie all our moral self-consciousness and our reflection on moral subjects.
Moral rules, in prescribing what it is right for each person
to do, must take into account the objects of desire to which each person is entitled. They thus recognize rights, and impose corresponding obligations. There are certain fundamental rights which flow necessarily from the moral nature of man, and the conceptions of which are universal. These conceptions are the basis of public law. All law aims at their realization, but with greater or less success according to the existing degree of culture, or the historical circumstances, which may have favored or retarded the development of a particular class of rights. Thus laws, though based on immutable principles and universal ideas, may be partial, imperfect, and mutable, — indeed, must ever be in a transition state, as it is their office to embody the conceptions of rights in local and historical circumstances, which can never be the same in two different communities or two successive generaons.
Our author enumerates as essential rights “the rights of personal security, the rights of property, the rights of contract, the rights of marriage, and the rights of government ” ; and proceeds to trace the development of these several classes of rights in the Roman and the English law. We cannot follow him in this sketch, which is fair, accurate, concise, and comprehensive. He passes thence to the consideration of duties and virtues. Obligations relate to outward acts. So long as we invade no man's rights, no man can justly make any farther claim upon us. Beyond this point, law cannot go. But the obligation to refrain from certain illegal actions imposes upon us the duty of refraining from such thoughts, desires, and purposes as might lead to these actions. The law, “ Thou shalt not steal,” imposes the duty of not coveting; the law, “ Thou shalt not kill,” the duty of suppressing those angry, malicious, revengeful thoughts, of which murder is the ripened fruit. Moral precepts thus cover with probibitions addressed to the minds of men the whole circuit of wrong actions which the law probibits. But the prohibition of certain wrong desires and purposes implies the duty of cherishing the opposite desires and purposes. The mind cannot repose with satisfaction on a negative morality. The supreme law of human action must necessarily include the whole of our nature, so as to direct every faculty, power, and affection towards its proper object. The idea of perfect goodness is a universal idea, and it embraces several distinct conceptions, corresponding to the several kinds of rights and obligations; and each of these gives rise to a separate class of moral precepts, and asserts its supremacy over a distinct department of the thoughts, desires, and purposes. The moral conceptions, to which all others may be reduced or referred, are benevolence, justice, truth, purity, and order, which, considered as dispositions of mind, may be termed the cardinal virtues. From these conceptions are deduced the propositions which we term the fundamental principles of morality. Thus, “ Each man is to have his own," is the principle of justice. To the principles corresponding to the five cardinal virtues our auther adds the principle of earnestness, “ The affections and intentions must not only be rightly directed, but energetic,” and that of moral purpose, “ Things are to be sought only as means to moral ends," – principles which express the intuitive conviction of every moral agent. The various forms and manifestations of character included in the five cardinal virtues, together with the opposite shades and degrees of vice, are drawn out with great perspicuity and accuracy of detail ; but there are no salient points which demand special notice, and our limits will not permit us to give even a hasty sketch of the discussion. We cannot, however, refrain from expressing our admiration of the symmetry between Dr. Whewell's classification of rights and his list of cardinal virtues. The term cardinal virtues has hitherto been an arbitrary term,
the prominent traits of a good character, without reference to their susceptibility of a farther analysis or of identification with each other. But the classes of rights ennumerated in this work grow out of the ultimate, elementary conditions of human well-being; and, as virtue is necessarily based on human rights, and aims at their security and extension, it must therefore have a separate phasis, and ought to have a generic name, corresponding to each class of rights. Accordingly, the rights of personal security are protected by benevolence; those of property by justice ; those of contract by truth ; those flowing from the marriage relation by purity, which prescribes the subjection of the lower parts of our nature to the higher ; those of government by order, which dictates obedience to laws, and the discharge of one's relative duties as a member of the body politic. To these virtues the principle of earnestness gives intensity, energy, and progressive development, while that of moral purpose unites them in their highest office of enriching and ennobling the individual soul.
All duties imply the duty of cultivating them, that is, the duty of moral progress, which can never terminate on earth ; for, so long as we live, we “have room to make ourselves better and wiser, to increase the warmth of our affections, to purify our hearts, to elevate our thoughts, to make ourselves more and more virtuous.” Transgressions not only arrest our moral progress, but are steps in a retrograde moral course. After transgression, our progress can be resumed only by repentance, amendment, and reformation ; por can the moralist pronounce, without authority from a higher source, that even these can avert the consequences of sin, and restore the integrity of the moral nature. Conscience is the faculty by which we determine whether our dispositions or actions are right or wrong. Conscience (con-science) is self-knowledge. It implies the knowledge of our own moral condition, of the principles to which it is amenable, of the complexion which it bears as good or evil. It is at once witness, law, and judge. As law, however, it does not necessarily and in all points coincide with the supreme law. It represents the individual's degree of moral culture and stage of moral progress. Therefore, while he who acts against his conscience is always wrong, he who acts in conformity with his conscience is not necessarily right. He may not have educated his conscience, — he may have violated the duty of progress; and in that case, conscientiousness is no excuse. Or he may have had imperfect opportunities of developing the ideas of right and duty ; in which case, whatever judgment we may pass upon the moral agent, bis dispositions and conduct cannot be regarded with approbation by one whose conscience is more enlightened.
Compared with the supreme law, the most highly educated conscience is imperfect, and may sometimes render doubtful responses. Hence come what moralists have termed cases of conscience, to the discussion of several of which the author devotes one of his most ably written and interesting chapters. From this chapter, which we would gladly quote entire, we offer several extracts on subjects of immediate interest, on which well disposed people might range themselves on
different sides as to their judgments and conduct. Thus, we have heard good men assert the right of an anonymous author to maintain his incognito, even at the expense of literal truth, against intrusive questioners, who have no legal or moral right to know the fact. To such persons we would commend the following statement.
“ The author of an anonymous work, who wishes to remain unknown as the author, but is suspected, is asked whether he wrote the work. To refuse to reply would be to acknowledge it. Such authors have held, that, in such a case, they may deny the authorship. They urge, that the Questioner has no right to know : that the Author has a Right to remain concealed, and has no means of doing so but by such a denial. But this defence is wrong. The author has no moral Right to remain concealed at the expense of telling a Lie : that is, it is not right in him thus to protect himself. But on the other hand, he is not bound to answer. Nor need he directly refuse to do so. He may evade the question, or turn off the subject. There is nothing to prevent his saying, “How can you ask such a question ?' or any thing of the like kind, which may remove the expectation of an answer. If he cannot secure his object in this or some similar way, it is to be recollected that he has drawn the inconvenience upon himself, by first writing an anonymous work, and then engaging in conversation on such terms, that he cannot escape answering questions about the authorship of the work. He has no Right, moral or other, to insist that these two employments may be pursued jointly without inconvenience. Familiar conversation is a play of reciprocal insight and reciprocal guidance of thought; and such weapons a man may very rightly use, to guard his secret. But he may not assume that it must be guarded at any rate, by means right or wrong, by declarations true or false. On the other hand, he may seek, as widely as he chooses, for some turn of conversation by which he may baffle curiosity without violating truth. To discover such a turn is a matter of skill, self-command, and invention. If he fail and be detected, he may receive some vexation or inconvenience; but if he succeed at the expense of truth, he receives a moral stain.” – Vol. 1., pp. 280, 281.
We commend the following extract to the attention, both of lawyers who would be good and true men, and of those who doubt whether the profession of an advocate can be pursued without the sacrifice of integrity. ban" Some Moralists have ranked with the cases in which Convention supersedes the general rule of truth, an Advocate asserting