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fact I have incidentally noticed, viz. that goodness of nature is deeply implanted in the human mind.
"Goodness of nature, of all virtues and dignities of the mind, is the greatest, being the character of the Deity"-" The inclination to Goodness is imprinted deeply in the nature of man; insomuch that if it issue not towards man, it will take unto other living creatures.”*
Bishop Butler says, "There is a natural principle of Benevolence in man”—“ such a natural principle of attraction in man towards man that having trod the same tract of land, having breathed in the same climate, barely having been born in the same artificial district or division, becomes the occasion of contracting acquaintances and familiarities many years after:" and he concludes, that, "as any thing may serve the purpose," these and other "relations merely nominal, are in truth merely the occasions, upon which our nature carries us on according to its own previous bent and bias."+
It is far from my intention, in these and the pre. ceding observations on vice and virtue, to enter into what may be called an analysis of the mind. I have thought it desirable to come at as clear an understanding as may be, of what is meant by the expression "seeds of virtue," used by so many critical and philosophical writers; and therefore have endeavoured to show upon what foundation some of the
*Bacon's Essays, xiii.
+ Butler's Sermons.
virtues are built, as well as the true spring of virtue in the mind. I have endeavoured to show that this foundation is not laid by man; that the principles are within his own breast; and that all virtue must ultimately be resolved into the pure unbiassed dictates of the Conscience or Moral Principle as its root and source. Men may differ about names; and they may ascribe virtue to Reason, or to Self-love, or to Utility, or to Benevolence; or may have it to consist in conduct agreeable to the Fitness of things. But they are agreed upon the fruit: they know what is good and excellent in conduct; and, on the other hand, what is base and dishonourable. And, as under right influence (if it be lawful here to give virtue its full Christian acceptation) it elevates man to the perfection of his moral nature; they must acknowledge that, whatever be its source, that, which constitutes the true dignity of man, is not likely to be adventitious, or brought from without,—while every principle that has a tendency to degrade, is natural, or implanted within. They must still admit its intrinsic value. In whatever way, therefore, they connect it with other principles of the mind-the understanding or the heart-such as Reason or Benevolence, it is far above them all in excellence, and has an indefeasible title to the love and veneration of mankind. As Reason may shew itself without Virtue, Reason cannot be Virtue; and the same may be said of Self-love and Benevolence; for Reason may be cultivated to the highest pitch of natural discern
ment, without one particle of virtue: and therefore whether philosophers will allow it to occupy its seat in the mind, on an independent footing, or by the mediation, support, and exercise of some other principle; it will assuredly establish its throne, wherever Piety, Humility, and Self-denial are suffered to prevail, with an authority which subjects Reason, Selflove, Affection, Sympathy, and Desire, to its government: But all this may be said, and perhaps more properly, of that seed or principle of moral emotion, from which alone true Virtue springs, and which has obtained many different appellations, of which CONSCIENCE is perhaps the chief.
Of Benevolence and Self-Love.
Before I proceed to treat of Conscience and its supremacy, with its laws and modifications, and the various denominations under which it has passed, I am anxious to say a few words on the Benevolent affections, by way of attempting to remove from human nature the imputation of Selfishness, which has been thrown upon it in some celebrated systems of morals. It cannot be doubted, that there are in human nature implanted feelings of Benevolence, undefiled with selfish motives But these benevolent feelings, in themselves, I am inclined to think, have no immediate relation to Virtue, because we see
some of them at times in the brute creation-the off
spring of pure nature.
These Benevolent Affections display themselves in various ways towards others, as in parental and filial Affection, in Sympathy or Compassion for the afflicted and distressed, in Esteem and Veneration for the wise, generous, and good, in Gratitude towards our benefactors, in Friendship for those of kindred sentiments and feelings, &c.
Now, he must entertain a mean and contracted notion of human nature, who can see nothing in the kind impulse of these Affections, but a secret and selfish view to our own interest; making the ground of Attachment, of Generosity, and of the Social Union, to consist in the cold calculations of Self-love, and not in the warm unpremeditated feelings of natural Benevolence.
Every one of these impulses was given us by the provident Author of Nature, for claims of social good, which Reason would be too slow to answer, too cold to estimate, and too formal to fulfil,
Nay, we find that, in proportion as Reason obtains the ascendancy, subjecting thought and motive and action to rigid rule, feeling is superseded, and natural impulse becomes weak. The heart has then no voice, and is not permitted to dictate to the head. The warmth of youthful emotion is chilled by the caution of age. Liberality may indeed discover itself; but its offerings are like the tardy fruits which a rigid plant in some churlish soil is compelled to
yield by stubborn labour: while the other may be compared to those supplies which bountiful nature, in the warmth of a genial climate, pours forth in spontaneous abundance. However age and intercourse with the world may tend to chill these natural emotions, and to make considerations of interest enter into every act and motive; it is certain, that the warm-hearted youth has no conception that he is playing the game of Self-love, while he is acting under the influence of Pity, Gratitude, or Friendship, or submitting with cheerfulness to toilsome privations, for the support of a destitute parent.
When an anxious mother extends her numerous cares, and deprives herself of many comforts for the sake of her beloved offspring ;-when a good Sama❤ ritan pours in the oil and wine to allay the sufferings of some afflicted stranger ;-when a man is impelled by the ardour of feeling to rush into the flames or to plunge into the sea, at the risk of his own life, to rescue a fellow mortal from imminent danger ;-when an act of unlooked-for kindness has made such an impression, that Gratitude swells in the heart and speaks in the language of sincerity from every feature, seeking every occasion to show the obligation more than to repay the debt,-can we believe that, in any of these instances, self-love, or the prospect of some advantage remote or near, is the spring of action; and would not the individuals, actuated by such Affections, turn with a natural surprise, mingled with amiable contempt, from any one, as though he were callous