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perfections---either that the principle was erroneous, or that it was indistinctly explained, or that the rules deduced from it, were not sufficiently adapted to real life and to actual situations. The writings of Grotius, and the larger work of Puffendorf, are of too forensic a cait, too much mixed up with the civil law, and with the jurisprudence of Germany, to answer precisely the design of a system of ethics, the direction of private confciences in the general conduct of human life.'
Our own writers are not free from these imputations, to which may be added, their separating the law of nature from tñe precepts of revelation; and declining to mention the scripture authorities in support of their other arguments.
The manner is allo sometimes liable to exception. Moral institutes have been delivered in detached propositions, which are of too transitory a nature to fix themselves in the mind : one effaces the other, in a continued series, • velut unda una dam.' The opposite fault to this is a laboured and prolix difcullion of elements and verbal distinctions. The principal examples of these two kinds of writings are Dr. Ferguson's Institutes of Moral Philosophy, and Dr. Rutherford's of Natural Law.
The subjects of Mr. Paley's work speak to men's business and bosoms:' they are generally interesting and important. The question is always stated with precision ; it is fairly laid down, and in its full force. For this we owe him our thanks; and, in this part, he has had few competitors. Authors frequently fear difficulties, and attempt to elude them, instead of meeting them with an attention equal to their importance. They tremble for a name, and, to save it, sacrifice the dignity of their subject, or the subject itself; hence they afford a temporary triumph to the sceptic or the libertine, by the weakness of an injudicious defence.
The author apologises for mixing politics with ethics, and for not quoting authorities. That a margin, crowded with names, can give a force to truth, and a dignity to morality, those will only think, who have been conversant with the auchors on the continent, or who suppose, that in uch labour there is much learning. A precept of morality is undoubtedly to be appreciated by its intrinsic worth ; for a name cannot add force to one obviously just, or support another that may be trifling, or ill-founded. In natural knowlege, the importance of the observation is often determined by the credit of the observer; and with reason, since so few are to be truited with the use of their own eyes.
« The next circunstance for which fome apology may be expected, is the joining of moral and political philosophy toge
ther, ther, or the addition of a book of polities to a system of ethics. Against this objection, if it be made one, I might defend mya self by the example of many approved writers, who have treated, de officiis hominis et civis, or, as some chuse to express it,
of the rights and obligations of man, in his individual and social capacity,” in the fame book. I might alledge also, that the part a member of the commonwealth thall take in political contentions, the vote he Mall give, the counsels he shall approve, the support he shall afford, or the oppofition he shall inake, to any system of public measures, is as much a question of personal duty, as much concerns the conscience of the individual, who deliberates, as the determination of any doubt which relates to the conduct of private life ; that consequently political philosophy is, properly speaking, a continuation of moral philofophy; or rather, indeed, a part of it, suppoing moral philosophy to have for iis aim, the information of the human conscience in every deliberation that is likely to come before it. I might, avail myself of these excuses, if I wanted them ; but the vindication upon which I rely, is the following. In ftating the principle of morals, the reader will observe, that I have em. ployed some industry in explaining the theory, and shewing the necessity of general rules; without the full and constant confideration of which, I am persuaded that no system of moral philosophy can be satisfactory or confiftent. This foundation being laid, or rather, this habit being formed, the difcuffion of political subjects, to which, more than almost to any other, ge. neral rules are applicable, became clear and easy. Whereas, had these topics been assigned to a distinct work, it would have been necessary to have repeated the same rudiments, to have established over again the same principles, as those which we had already exemplified, and rendered familiar to the reader, in the former parts of this. In a word, if there appear to any one too great a diversity, or too wide a distance between the subjects treated of, in the course of the present volume, lec him be reminded, that the doctrine of general rules pervades and connects the whole.'
• Concerning the personal motives which engaged me in the following attempt, it is not necessary that I lay much; the nature of my academical situation, a great deal of leisure fince my retirement from it, the recommendation of an honoured and excellent friend, the authority of the venerable prelate to whom these labours are inscribed, the not perceiving in what way I could employ my time cr talents better, and my disapprobation in literary men of that faftidious indolence, which, lits till because it dildains co do little, were the considerations that directed my thoughts to this design. Nor have I repented of the undertaking. Whatever be the fate or reception of this work, it owes its author nothing. In fickness and in health, I "have found in it that, which can alone alleviate the one, or give enjoyment to the other-occupation and engagement."
We have been diffufe in explaining the author's design, because we think the work deserves great attention. We Thall now give a short analysis of the various subjects, and subjoin fome extracts, chiefly calculated to illustrate the manner which diftinguishes the present volume.
The great use of morality is to regulate the rules of life, viz. the law of honour, that of the land, and the scriptures. Some authors have substituted for moral precepts, an instinctive monitor, called the moral sense, as a principle of our constitution, capable of discerning right and wrong, and of informing us of the nature of our actions, by a secret, though often a powerful impulse. Our author thinks, with reason, that there is no such innate principle. The great source of confusion, in almost every branch of metaphysics, has been the velocity with which the mind acts, and the readiness with which she appropriates every thing external to herself. By this means we can seldom diftinguish her natural powers from her acquisitions; for qualities apparently inherent, are often the creatures of her own formation. The science wants great asistance from careful and accurate observers : Mr. Paley does not add much to it in this light ; but he examines with candour, and generally decides with judgment. Human happiness and virtue are the two next objects of confideration, which our author styles preliminary. The chapter on happiness is written with great perspicuity and exactnefs.
The second book is on · Moral Obligation ;' and Mr. Paley, with fingular address, eitablishes the union between morality and religion. Indeed, as he has pointed the question, it is difficult to elude it. He himself seems to think that, independent of the declared will of God, there are not sufficient motives to check vice. Without wishing to weaken the inducements, or to diminish one link in this great chain of union, we cannot implicitly follow our author in this opinion. It is enough to agree that, in a well regulated reflecting mind, motives of either kind will add weight to the others; and it is a pleasing reflection, that each mode of reasoning is capable of proving the necessity of morality. Perhaps no one has, for a moment, doubted it, fince however different tenets and precepts may be, in this great point every fećt agrees,
Our author's plan next leads him to consider. Divine Benevolence, which he establishes so unexceptionably, that we may safely follow him in his enquiry into the will of God, concerning any given action, by the confideration of its tendency, to promote or diminish general happiness. This enquiry, and the proper limitations, leads our author to establish the neces.
fity of general rules, and to distinguish between the general and particular consequences of an action.
The connection of obligation' and 'right,' or rather their opposition, induces the author to close the first book with some remarks and distinctions of general and particular rights.' These observations are extremely just, and involve some important consequences, which we would recommend to those who are eager to support monopolies; but unfortunately the desire of gain, or the luft of power, feldom attend to the dictates of morality.
The third book is on Determinate Relative Duties,' as property, its utility, and the various means by which it is acs quired ; promises of different kinds, which are accurately diftinguished, and the remarks on each kind are extremely just and clear. Contracts of different forts; and from this part of the work we shall sele&t a specimen, because it is less connected with the reasoning of the rest.
• I know few subjects which have been more misunderstood than the law which authorises the imprisonment of insolvene debtors. It has been represented as a gratuitous cruelty, which contributes nothing to the reparation of the creditor's loss, or to the advantage of the community. This prejudice arises principally from considering the sending of a debtor to jail, as an act of private satisfaction to the creditor, instead of a public punishment. As an act of satisfaction or revenge it is always wrong in the motive, and often intemperate and undistinguishing in the exercise. Confider it as a public punilhment, founda ed upon the same reason, and subject to the same rules, as other punishments; and the justice of it, together with the degree to which it should be extended, and the objects upon whom it may be inflicted, will be apparent. There are frauds relat; ing to insolvency, against which it is as necessary to provide punishment, as for any public crimes whatever; as where a man gets your money into his possession, and forthwith runs away with it; or, what is little better, squanders it with vitious expences; or ftakes it at the gaming table; in the alley ; or upon wild adventures in trade; or is conscious at the time he bcrrows it, that he can never repay it; or wilfully puts it out of his power by profuse living; or conceals his effects, or transfers them by collufion to another; not to mention the obftinacy of some debtors, who had rather rot in a jail, than dea liver up their eftates ; for, to say the truth, the first absurdity is in the law itself, which leaves it in a debtor's power to witha hold any part of his property from the claim of his creditors. The only queition is, whether the punishment be properly placed in the hands of an exafperated creditor? for which it may be said, that these frauds are su fubtle and versatile, that mothing but a discretionary power can overtake them; and that
VOL. LX. July, 1785.
no discretion is likely to be so well informed, so vigilant, and so active, as that of the creditor.
• It must be remembered, however, that the confinement of a debtor in jail is a punishment; and that every punishment supposes a crime. To pursue, therefore, with the extremity of legal rigour, a fufferer, whom the fraud or failure of others, his own want of capacity, or the difappointments and miscarriages to which all human affairs are subject, have reduced to ruin, merely because we are provoked by our loss, and seek to relieve the pain we feel, by that which we inflict, is
repugnant not only to humanity, but to justice; for it is to pervert a provision of law, designed for a different and a falutary purpose, to the gratification of private spleen and resentment. Any alteration in these laws, which could diftinguish the degrees of guilt, or convert the service of the insolvent debior to fome public profit, might be an improvement; but any confiderable mitigation of their rigour, under colour oforelieving the poor, would increase their hardships. For whatever deprives the creditor of his power of coercion, deprives him of his security : and as this must add greatly to the difficulty of obtaining credit, the poor, especially the lower fort of tradesmen, are the first who would fuffer by such a regulation. As tradesmen muft buy before they fell, you would exclude from trade two-thirds of those who now carry it on, if none were enabled to enter into it, without a capital sufficient for prompt payments. An advocate,' therefore, for the interests of this important class of the community will deem it more eligible, that one out of a thoufand should be sent to jail by his creditor, than that the nine hundred and ninety-nine fhould be straittned, and embarrassed, and many of them lie idle, by the want of credit.'
'The other subjects of this book are on Lies and Oaths, or Subscriptions and Wills. We fall extract one paragraph from the chapter on Lies, to point out the opinion of the author, on a difputed point, without attempting ourselves to decide on it. Many preliminary steps are requisite to clear it from every difficulty.
Falfhoods, our author obferves, are not lies, where the perfon you speak to has no right to know the truth, or more properly, where little or no inconvenience results from the want of confidence ; in such cases, as where you tell a fallhood to a child, or a madman, for their own advantage; to a robber, to conceal your property ; to an affaffin, to defeat, or to divert him from his purpose. The particular consequence is by the fuppofition beneficial ; and, as to the general consequence, the worst that can happen is, that the child, the madman, the robe ber, the affalin, will trust you no more: which (besides, that the two first are incapable of deducing regular conclufions, from having been once deceived, and the two lait not likely to come