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their minds to certain affections and actions towards particular objects; which laws seem to be established chiefly for the preservation of mankind, though not only for this, but also for their comfortably subsisting in the world. Which dispositions may be called instincts. Some of these instincts respect only ourselves personally ; such are many of our natural appetites and aversions. Some of them are not wholly personal, but more social, and extend to others; such are the mutual inclinations between the sexes, &c.....Some of these dispositions are more external and sensitive ; such are some of our natural inclinations that are personal....as those that relate to meat and drink. And of this sort also are some dispositions that are more social, and in some respects extend to others; as, the more sensitive inclinations of the sexes towards each other. Besides these instincts of the sensitive kind, there are others that are more internal and inental ; consisting in affections of the mind, which mankind naturally exercise towards some of their fellow creatures, or in some cases towards men in general. Some of these instincts that are mental and social, are what may be called kind affections; as having something in them of benevolence, or a resemblance of it. And others are of a different sort, having something in them that carries an angry appearance ; such as the passion of jealousy between the sexes, especially in the male towards the female. It is only the former of these two last mentioned sorts, that it is to my purpose to consider in this place, viz. those natural instincts which appear in benevolent affections, or which have the appearance of benevolence and so in some respects resemble virtue. These I shall therefore consider ; and shall endeavor to shew that none of them can be of the nature of true virtue. That kind affection which is exercised towards those who are near one to another in natural relation, particularly the love of parents to their children, called natural affection, is by many referred to instinct. I have already considered this sort of love as an affection that arises from self love ; and in that view, and in that supposition have shewn, it cannot be
of the nature of true virtue. But if any think, that natural affection is more properly to be referred to a particular instinct of nature, than to self love, as its cause, I shall not think it a point worthy of any controversy or dispute. In my opinion, both are true, viz. that natural affection is owing to natural instinct, and also that it arises from self love. It may be said to arise from instinct, as it depends on a law of nature. But yet it may be truly reckoned as an affection arising from self love; because, though it arises from a law of nature, yet that is such a law as according to the order and harmony every where observed among the laws of nature, is connected with, and follows from self love, as was shewn before. However, it is not necessary to my present purpose, to insist on this. For if it be so, that natural affection to a man’s children or family, or near relations, is not properly to be ascribed to self love, as its cause, in any respect, but is to be esteemed an affection arising from a particular independent instinct of nature, which the Creator in his wisdom has implanted in men for the preservation and well being of the world of mankind, yet it cannot be of the nature of true virtue. For it has been observed, and I humbly conceive, proved before (Chap. II.) that if any Being or Beings have by natural instinct, or any other means, a determination of mind to benevolence, extending only to some particular persons, or private system, however large that system may be, or however great a number of individuals it may contain, so long as it contains but an infinitely small part of universal existence, and so bears no proportion to this great and universal system.....such limited private benevolence, not arising from, nor being subordinate to benevolence to Being in general, cannot have the nature of true virtue.
However, it may not be amiss briefly to observe now, that it is evident to a demonstration, those affections cannot be of the nature of true virtue, from these two things.
First, That they do not arise from a principle of virtue...... A principle of virtue, I think, is owned by the most considerable of late writers on morality to be general benevolence or
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public affection : And I think it has been proved to be union of heart to Being simply considered ; which implies a disposition to benevolence to Being in general. Now by the supposition, the affections we are speaking of do not arise from this principle ; and that, whether we suppose they arise from self love, or from particular instincts; because either of those sources is diverse from a principle of general benevolence. And,
Secondly, These private affections, if they do not arise from. general benevolence, and they are not connected with it in their first existence, have no tendency to produce it. This appears from what has been observed : For being not dependent on it, their detached and unsubordinate operation rather tends to, and implies opposition to Being in general, than general benevolence ; as every one sees and owns with respect to self love. And there are the very same reasons why any other private affection, confined to limits infinitely short of universal existence, should have that influence, as well as love that is confined to a single person. Now upon the whole, nothing can be plainer than that affections which do not arise from a virtuous principle, and have no tendency to true virtue, as their effect, cannot be of the nature of true virtue.
For the reasons which have been given, it is undeniably true, that if persons by any means come to have a benevolent assection limited to a party that is very large, or to the country or nation in general, of which they are a part, or the public community they belong to, though it be as large as the Roman empire was of old, yea, if there could be an instinct or other cause determining a person to benevolence towards the whole world of mankind, or even all created sensible natures throughout the universe, exclusive of union of heart to general existence and of love to God, nor derived from that temper of mind which disposes to a supreme regard to him, nor subordinate to such divine love, it cannot be of the nature of true virtue.
If what is called natural affection, arises from a particular natural instinct, so, much more indisputably, does that mutual
affection which naturally arises between the sexes. I agree with Hutcheson and Hume in this, that there is a foundation laid in nature for kind affections between the sexes, that are truly diverse from all inclinations to sensitive pleasure, and do not properly arise from any such inclination. There is doubtless a disposition both to a mutual benevolence and mutual complacence, that are not naturally and necessarily connected with any sensitive desires. But yet it is manifest such affections as are limited to opposite sexes, are from a particular instinct, thus directing and limiting them ; and not arising from a principle of general benevolence; for this has no tendency to any such limitation. And though these affections do not properly arise from the sensitive desires which are between the sexes, yet they are implanted by the Author of nature chiefly for the same purpose, viz. the preservation or continuation of the world of mankind, to make persons willing to forsake father and mother, and all their natural relations in the families where they were born and brought up, for the sake of a stated union with a companion of the other sex, and to dispose to that union in bearing and going through with that series of labors, anxieties, and pains requisite to the Being, support and education of a family of children. Though not only for these ends, but partly also for the comfort of mankind as united in a marriage relation. But I suppose, few (if any) will deny, that the peculiar natural dispositions there are to mutual affection between the sexes, arise from an instinct or particular law of nature. And therefore it is manifest from what has been said already, that those natural dispositions cannot be of the nature of true virtue. Another affection which is owing to a particular instinct, implanted in men for like purposes with other instincts, is that pity which is natural to mankind, when they see others in great distress. It is acknowledged, that such an affection is natural to mankind. But I think it evident, that the pity which is general and natural, is owing to a particular instinct, and is not of the nature of true virtue. I am far from saying, that there is no such thing as a truly virtuous pity among mankind. For I am far from thinking, that all the pity or . mercy which is any where to be found among them, arises merely from natural instinct, or, that none is to be found, which arises from that truly virtuous divine principle of general benevolence to sensitive Beings. Yet at the same time I think, this is not the case with all pity, or with that disposition to pity which is natural to mankind in common. I think I may be bold to say, this does not arise from general benevolence, nor is truly of the nature of benevolence, or properly called by that name. If all that uneasiness on the sight of others extreme distress, which we call pity, were properly of the nature of benevolence, then they who are the subjects of this passion, must needs be in a degree of uneasiness in being sensible of the total want of happiness, of all such as they would be disposed to pity in extreme distress. For that certainly is the most direct tendency and operation of benevolence or good will, to desire the happiness of its object. But now this is not the case universally, where men are disposed to exercise pity. There are many men, with whom that is the case in respect to some others in the world, that it would not be the occasion of their being sensibly affected with any uneasiness, to know they were dead (yea men who are not influenced by the consideration of a future state, but view death as only a cessation of all sensibility, and consequently an end of all happiness) who yet would have been moved with pity towards the same persons, if they had seen them under some very extreme anguish. Some men would be moved with pity by seeing a brute creature under extreme and long torments, who yet suffer no uneasiness in knowing that many thousands of them every day cease to live, and so have an end put to all their pleasure, at butchers shambles in great cities. It is the nature of true benevolence to desire and rejoice in the prosperity and pleasure of the object of it; and that, in some proportion to its degree of prevalence. But persons may greatly pity those that are in extreme pain, whose positive pleasure they may still be very indifferent about. In this case a man may be much moved and affected with uneasiness, who yet would be affected with no sensible joy in seeing signs of the