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in possession of good he would certainly seem to be mistaken. But how little difference is there between him who bath just entered upon life, and him, who is as yet a latent burthen in the womb? Both of them as to any understanding of good and evil, are alike mature; because an infant is no more capable of good than a tree, or a brute animal. And why is not a tree or a brute animal capable of good? Because they want reason : and upon the same account infants are not capable; for they as yet want reason.
Some animals are irrational ; some not as yet rational; and some rational, but imperfectly: in none of these dwells good. It is an attendant upon reason. What difference then is there between the things before-mentioned ? Good can never be in what is irrational; in what is not yet rational, good is not yet; and in what is imperfect, good may hereafter be, but is not now. What I mean, Lucilius, is this : good is not found in every natural body; nor in every age of life; and is as far from belonging to infancy, as the last is from the first; or perfection from a beginning : therefore much less in a body, scarcely formed in the womb, or whatever prior state it may be in. Again, speaking of the good of a tree or plant; you will not say that it is in the first leaf that buddeth forth; or that the good of wheat is in the tender blade, or in the soft ear that first springs from the stalk; but in the grain, when the summer and due maturity hath hardened it. As nothing in nature exhibits good before it is in perfection, so the good of man is not in man 'till reason is become perfect in him. Now what this good is I will tell you : it is a mind upright and
free, subječting other things to it felf, itself to nothing. Infancy therefore is not capable of this good; neither can the child, the boy, or youth itself expect it, but unjustly and in vain. And happy is the old age, that hath attained it by long study and application, when it becomes a real and intellectual good.
You allow, it is said, some good to be in trees and in herbs; why not then in infants ? True good is neither in trees nor in brute animals ; the good in them is only a precarious good, by concession. And what is that? you say. Why it is that which is consonant to the nature of 3
every thing. Good can by no means be assigned to brute animals; it is of a more noble and happy nature. There can be no good, but where there is reason.
There are four several natures: that of a tree, that of a beast, that of a man, and that of God. The former two, being both irrational, have much the same nature. The other two have different natures, the one being immortal, the other mortal. The nature then of one, i. e. of God, is perfect good in itself; and care and diligence in the other, i. e. in man, hath made alfo his (respectively) perfect. Other things are said to be perfect in their nature, but not truly perfect, forasmuch as they want reafon. For that, in short, is perfect, which is perfect according to universal nature; but universal nature is rational; other things however may be perfect in their kind.
In what there cannot be a blessed life, neither can be that by which a blessed life is effected; there is not in a brute animal that whereby blessed life is effected, therefore in a brute animal good is not. A brute animal indeed comprehends things present by sensation; and remembers things past, when the sense is awakened thereto by something prefent. As a horse remembers the road when he is put into it; but it is not to be supposed that in the stable he remembers any thing of the road, though he treads it every day (a). The third degree of time, ! mean the time to come, appertaineth not to brute beasts. How then can the nature of those things seem perfect, which have not the use of perfect time? For time is divided into three parts, past, present, and future: that only which is shortest, and is passing, i. e, the present, is given to the knowledge of animals ; very rare is the remembrance of the past, nor ever recovered, but by the intervention of something prefent. The good therefore of a perfect nature cannot be in a nature that is imperfect; or if it naturally hath good, it is of the same fort that plants also have.
Nor do I deny but that brute animals are carried with a strong force and impulse towards those things that seem agreeable to nature; but
then it is in a confused and disorderly manner; but there can never be any disorder or confusion in good. Wby then, fay you, are brute animals moved confusedly and disorderly? I said this upon a supposition, that their nature was capable of order ; they are now moved according to
For that is confused, which may not be so at another time; and that not at ease, which at another time may be secure. Vice is in none, but where also there may be virtue. The motion then in brute beasts is such as is according to their nature. But not to detain you too long, suppose a brute animal to have some good, some virtue, something perfect; what then? It is not absolutely good, nor virtues nor perfection ; for these privileges belong only to rational animals, to whom it is given to know, wherefore, how far, and in what manner. So that good is in nothing but where there is reason.
You ask, whereunto tends this discourse, and wherein will it profit the mind? I will tell you ; it both exercises and sharpens it: and, as the mind must be employed some way or other (6), detains it in a fit employ: it is of service likewise in preventing it from pursuing its natural tendency to ill. But give me leave further to say, that I cannot postibly confer a greater benefit upon you, than by pointing out to you your own good, by distinguishing you from brute beasts, and placing you in communion with God.
Why then, I say, do you take so much pains in nourishing and exercising the strength of your body; as if this was to be boasted of? Nature hath given this in greater perfection to savage beasts. Why so careful to heighten and preserve beauty? When you have done all you can, many animals will excell
your hair with so great diligence and art ? Whether you let it flow at full: length, like the Parthians, or tie it up in a knot like the Germans, or frizzle and spread it wide, like the Scythians; every horse shall toss about a thicker and more flowing mane; and the lion shall look more formidably noble: and whatever (wiftness you pretend to, you are no match for the little hare,
you are necessarily excelled, as they are foreign to you, return to your own proper good? Know, it is this: a mind or foul truly reformed, and comparatively pure as God is pure: advancing itself above all earthly things, and reckoning nothing its own from without. Thou art a rational animal; and what is the good within thee? Perfect reason.
Perfect reason. Do all you can then to advance this, and carry it to the highest perfection, its proper end. Then think yourself happy, when all joy and latisfaction arise from yourself; when in all those things that men so greedily catch at, fo fondly wish for, and so carefully guard, you can find nothing, which, I do not say, you had rather have, but which you at all desire. I will conclude with this short rule, whereby you may examine yourself, and know whether you are as yet perfect. Thou shalt poffefs the proper good, when thou shalt know and understand, infeliciffimos effe felices, that they are most unhappy, who are happy (c).
ANNOT A TIONS,
(a) If brutes have any ideas at all, and are not bare machines (as some would have them) we cannot deny them to have some reason. It seems as evident to me that they do some of them in certain instances reason, as that they have sense; but it is only in particular ideas, just as they received them from their senfes. Locke, p. 121.
There is a gradation or scale of ascent of the principle of action among creatures in proportion to their perfection, with regard to the motion of their bodies.. But men have further a power of directing arbitrarily their perceptive capacity to, and throughout their past perceptions, which brutes have not: and therefore cannot properly be called thinking creatures. And this is the fpecific difference betwixt rational and irrational beings, as this power is the foundation of the ratiosal
See Baxter on Locke, p. 79, &c. Brown on the understanding, p. 173. (6) That there are ideas, fome or other always present in the mind of a waking man, every one's experience convinces him : though the mind employs itself about them with several degrees of actention, &c. Locke, p. 184.
(c) Or it may be rendered, that the most unhappy are happy, if they discharge to the best of their power the respective duties of life.
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