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same person's or Being's enjoyment of very high degrees of pleasure. * Yea, pity may not only be without benevolence, but may consist with true malevolence, or with such ill will as shall cause men not only not to desire the positive happiness of another, but even to desire his calamity. They may pity such an one when his calamity goes beyond their hatred. A man may have true malevolence towards another, desiring no positive good for him, but evil; and yet his hatred not be infinite, but only to a certain degree. And when he sees the person whom he thus hates, in misery far beyond his ill will, he may then pity him ; because then the natural instinct begins to operate. For malevolence will not overcome the natural instinct, inclining to pity others in extreme calamity, any further than it goes, or to the limits of the degree of misery it wishes to its object. Men may pity others under exquisite torment, when yet they would have been grieved if they had seen their prosperity. And some men have such a grudge against one or another, that they would be far from being uneasy at their very death, nay, would even be glad of it. And when this is the case with them, it is manifest that their heart is void of benevolence towards such persons, and under the power of malevolence. Yet at the same time they are capable of pitying even these very persons, if they should see them under a degree of misery very much disproportioned to their ill will. These things may convince us that natural pity is of a nature very different from true virtue, and not arising from a disposition of heart to general benevolence; but is owing to a particular instinct, which the Creator has implanted in mankind, for the same purposes as most other instincts, viz. chiefly for the preservation of mankind, though not exclusive of their well being. The giving of this instinct is the fruit of God’s mercy, and an instance of his love of the world of mankind, and an evidence that though the world be so sinful, it is not God’s design to make it a world of punishment ; and therefore has many ways made a merciful provision for men's relief in extreme calamities: And among others has given
mankind in general a disposition to pity; the natural exercises whereof extend beyond those whom we are in a near connexion with, especially in case of great calamity; because commonly in such cases men stand in need of the help of others beside their near friends, and because commonly those calamities which are extreme, without relief, tend to men’s destruction. This may be given as the reason why men are so made by the author of nature, that they have no instinct inclining as much to rejoice at the sight of others great prosperity and pleasure, as to be grieved at their extreme calamity, viz. because they do not stand in equal necessity of such an instinct as that in order to their preservation. But if pure benevolence were the source of natural pity, doubtless it would operate to as great a degree in congratulation, in cases of others great prosperity, as in compassion towards them in great misery. The instincts God has given to mankind in this world, which in some respects resemble a virtuous benevolence, are agreeable to the state that God designed mankind for here, where he intends their preservation, and comfortable subsistence. But in the world of punishment, where the state of the wicked inhabitants will be exceeding different, and God will have none of these merciful designs to answer, there, we have great reason to think, will be no such thing as a disposition to pity, in any case ; as also there will be no natural affection toward near relations, and no mutual affection between opposite sexes. To conclude what I have to say on the natural instinct disposing men to pity others in misery, I would observe, that this is a source of a kind of abhorrence in men of some vices, as cruelty and oppression; and so, of a sort of approbation of the contrary virtues, humanity, mercy, &c. Which aversion and approbation, however, so far as they arise from this cause enly, are not from a principle of true virtue.
The Reasons why those things that have been mentioned, which have not the Essence of Virtue, have yet by many been mistaken for True Virtue.
THE first reason that may be given of this, is, that although they have not the specific and distinguishing nature and essence of virtue, yet they have something that belongs to the general nature of virtue.....The general nature of true virtue is love. It is expressed both in love of benevolence and complacence ; but primarily in benevolence to persons and Beings, and consequently and secondarily in complacence in virtue....as has been shewn. There is something of the general nature of virtue in those natural affections and principles that have been mentioned, in both those respects. In many of these natural affections there is something of the appearance of love to persons. In some of them there appears the tendency and effect of benevolence, in part. Others have truly a sort of benevolence in them, though it be a private benevolence, and in several respects falls short of the extent of true virtuous benevolence, both in its nature and object. The last mentioned passion, natural to mankind in their present state, viz. that of pity to others in distress, though not properly of the nature of love, as has been demonstrated, yet has partly the same influence and effect with benevolence. One effect of true benevolence is to cause persons to be uneasy, when the objects of it are in distress, and to desire their relief. And natural pity has the same effect. Natural gratitude, though in every instance wherein it appears it is not properly called love, because persons may be moved with a degree of gratitude towards persons on certain occasions, whom they have no real and proper friendship for, as in the instance of Saul towards David, once and again, after David's sparing his life, when he had so fair an opportunity to kill him : Yet it has the same or, like operation and effect with friendship, in part, for a season, and with regard to so much of the welfare of its object, as appears a deserved requital of kindness received. And in other instances it may have a more general and abiding influence, so as more properly to be called by the name of love. So that many times men from natural gratitude do really with a sort of benevolence love those who love them. From this, together with some other natural principles, men may love their near friends, love their own party, love their country, &c. The natural disposition there is to mutual affection between the sexes, often operates by what may properly be called love. There is oftentimes truly a kind both of benevolence and eomplacence. As there also is between parents and children. Thus these things have something of the general nature of virtue, which is love;" and especially the thing last mentioncd has something of a love of benevolence. What they are essentially defective in, is, that they are private in their nature, they do not arise from any temper of benevolence to Being in general, nor have they a tendency to any such effect in their operation. But yet agreeing with virtue in its general nature, they are beautiful within their own private sphere, i. e. they appear beautiful if we confine our views to that private system, and while we shut all other things they stand in any relation to, out of our consideration. If that private system contained the sum of universal existence, then their benevolence would have true beauty; or, in other words, would be beautiful, all things considered; but now it is not so. These private systems are so far from containing the sum of universal Being, or comprehending all existence which we stand related to, that it contains but an infinitely small part of it. The reason why men are so ready to take these private affections for true virtue, is the narrowness of their views; and
* It claims to be considered, whether these things can be of the nature of virtue, even according to the distinctions the author has made.....EP.
above all, that they are so ready to leave the divine Being out of their view, and to neglect him in their consideration, or to regard him in their thoughts, as though he were not properly belonging to the system of real existence, but as a kind of shadowy, imaginary Being. And though most men allow that there is a God, yet in their ordinary view of things, his Being is not apt to come into the account, and to have the influence and effect of a real existence, as it is with other Beings which they see, and are conversant with by their external senses. In their views of beauty and deformity, and in the inward sensations of displicence and approbation which rise in their minds, it is not a thing natural to them to be under the influence of a view of the Deity, as part of the system, and as the head of the system, and he who is all in all, in comparison of whom all the rest is nothing, and with regard to whom all other things are to be viewed, and their minds to be accordingly impressed and affected. Yea, we are apt through the narrowness of our views, in
judging of the beauty of affections and actions to limit our consideration to only a small part of the created system..... When private affections extend themselves to a considerable number, we are very ready to look upon them as truly virtuous, and accordingly to applaud them highly. Thus it is with respect to love to a large party, or a man's love to his' country. For though his private system contains but a small part even of the world of mankind, yet being a considerable number, through the contracted limits of the mind and the narrowness of his views, they are ready to fill his mind and engross his sight, and to seem as if they were all. Hence among the Romans love to their country was the highest virtue; though this affection of theirs, so much extolled among them, was employed as it were for the destruction of the rest of the world of mankind. The larger the number is, that private affection extends to, the more apt men are, through the narrowness of their sight, to mistake it for true virtue; because then the private system appears to have more of the image of the universal system. Whereas, when the circle
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