« PreviousContinue »
have done it, we have done our duty, and all that is in our power, and indeed all that needs. For since the will supposes knowledge to guide its choice, and all that we can do is to hold our wills undetermined, till we have examined the good and evil of what we desire. What follows after that, follows in a chain of consequences linked one to another, all depending on the last determination of the judgment; which, whether it shall be upon a hasty and precipitate view, or upon a due and mature examination, is in our power ; experience showing us, that in most cases we are able to suspend the present satisfaction of any desire.
$. 53. But if any extreme disturbance Government of our pas
(as sometimes it happens) possesses our sions the whole mind, as when the pain of the rack, right im
an impetuous uneasiness, as of love, anger, provement of liberty.
or any other violent passion, running away
with us, allows us not the liberty of thought, and we are not masters enough of our own minds to consider thoroughly and examine fairly; God, who knows our frajlty, pities our weakness, and requires of us no more than we are able to do, and sees what was and what was not in our power, will judge as a kind and merciful father. But the forhearance of a too hasty compliance with our desires, the moderation and restraint of our passions, so that our understandings may be free to examine, and reason unbiassed give its judgment, being that whercon a right direction of our conduct to true happiness depends ; it is in this we should employ our chief care and endeavours. In this we should take pains to suit the relish of our minds to the true intrinsick good or ill that is in tliings, and not permit an allowed or supposed possible great and weighty good to slip out of our thoughts, without leaving any relish, any desire of itself there, till, by a due consideration of its true worth, we have formed appetites in our minds suitable to it, and made ourselves uneasy in the want of it, or in the fear of losing it. And how much this is in every one's power, by making résolutions to himself, such as he may keep, is easy for every one to try. Nor let any owe say he cannot go
vern his passions, nor hinder them from breaking out, and carrying him into action; for what he can do before a prince, or a great man, he can do alone, or in the presence
of God, if he will. $. 54. From what has been said, it is How men easy to give an account how it comes to
ome to purpass, that though all men desire happiness, fue different yet their wills carry them so contrarily, and consequently some of them to what is evil. And to this I say, that the various and contrary choices that men make in the world, do not argue that they do not all pursue good; but that the same thing is not good to every man alike. This variety of pursuits shows, that every one does not place his happiness in the same thing, or choose the same way to it. Were all the concerns of man terminated in this life, why.one followed study and knowledge, and another hawking and hunting: why one chose luxury and debauchery, and another sobriety and riches; would not be, because every one of these did not aim at his own happiness, but because their happiness was placed in different things. And therefore it was a right answer of the physician to his patient that had sore eyes : If you have more plcasure in the taste of wine than in the use of your sight, wine is good for you; but if the pleasure of seeing be greater to you than that of drinking, wine is naught.
$. 55. The mind has a different relish, as well as the palate; and you will as fruitlessly endeavour to delight all men with riches or glory (which yet some men place their happiness in) as you would to satisfy all men's hunger with cheese or lobsters; which, though very agreeable and delicious fare to some, are to others extremely nauscous and offensive: and many peoples would with reason prefer the griping of an hungry belly, to those dishes which are a feast to others. Hence it was, I think, that the philosophers of old did in vain enquire, whether summum bonum consisted in riches, or bodily delights, or virtue, or contemplation. And they might have as reasonably disputed, whether the best relish were to be found in apples, plums, or nuts; and have divided themselves into scets upon it.
For as pleasant tastes depend not on the things themselves, but their agreeableness to this or that particular palate, wherein there is great variety; so the greatest happiness consists in the having those things which produce the greatest pleasure, and in the absence of those which cause any disturbance, any pain. Now, these, to different men, are very different things. If therefore men in this life only have hope, if in this life they can only enjoy, it is not strange nor unreasonable, that they should seek their happiness by avoiding all things that disease them here, and by pursuing all that delight them; wherein it will be no wonder to find variety and difference. For if there be no prospect beyond the grave, the inference is certainly right,“ let
us eat and drink,” let us enjoy what we delight in,
for to-morrow we shall die. This, I think, may serve to show us the reason, why, though ali men's desres tend to happiness, yet they are not moved by the same object. Men may choose different things, and yet all choose right; supposing them only like a company of poor insects, whereof some are bees, delighted with flowers and their sweetness; others beetles, delighted with other kinds of viands, which having enjoyed for a season, they would cease to be, and exist no more for ever. How men $. 56. These things duly weighed, will come to
give us, as I think, a clear view into the choose ill.
liate of human liberty. Liberty, it is plain, consists in a power to do, or not to do; to do, or forbear doing, as we will. This cannot be denied. But this seeming to comprehend only the actions of a man consecutive to volition, it is farther inquired, “ther he be at liberty to will, or no.” And to this it has been answered, that in most cases a man is not at liberty' to forbear the act of volition : he must exert an act of his will, whereby the action proposed is inade to exist, or not to exist. But yet there is a case wherein a man is at liberty in respect of willing, and that is, the choosing of a remote good, as an end to be pursued. Here a man may suspect the act of 'his choice from being determined for or against the thing
proposed, till he has examined whether it be really of a nature in itself and consequences to make him happy,
For when he has once chosen it, and thereby it is become a part of his happiness, it raises desire, and that proportionably gives him uneasiness, which determines his will, and sets him at work in pursuit of his choice on all occasions that offer. And here we may see how it comes to pass, that a man may justly incur punishment, though it be certain that in all the particular actions that he wills, he does, and necessarily does will that which he then judges to be good. For, though his will be always determined by that which is judged good by his understanding, yet it excuses him not: because, by a too hasty choice of his own making, he has imposed on hims:lf wrong measures of good and evil; which, however false and fallacious, have the same influence on all his future conduct, as if they were true and right. Ile has vitiated his own palate, and must be answerable to himself for the sickness and death that follows from it. The eternal law and nature of things must not be altered, to comply with his ill-ordered choice. If the neglect, or abuse, of the liberty he had to examine what would really and truly inake for his happiness, misleads him, the miscarriages that follow on it must be imputed to his own election. He had a power to suspend his determination: it was given him, that he might examine, and take care of his own happiness, and look that he were not deceived. And he could never judge, that it was better to be deceived than not, in a inatter of so great and near concernment.
What has been said may also discover to us the reason why men in this world prefer different things, and pursue happiness by contrary courses. But yet, since men are always constant, and in earnest, in matters of happiness and misery, the question still remaing, How inen come often to prefer the worse to the better; and to choose that, which by their own confession, has made them miserable ?
$. 57. To account for the various and contrary wars men take, though all aim at being happy, we must conVol. I.
sider whence the various uneasinesses, that determine the will in the preference of each voluntary action, have their rise.
1. Some of them 'come from causes not From bodily pains.
in our power; such as are often the pains
of the body, from want, disease, or outward injuries, as the rack, &c. which, when present and violent, operate for the most part forcibly on the will, and turn the courses of men's lives from virtue, piety, and religion, and what before they judged to lead to happiness; every one not endeavouring, or through disuse not being able, by the contemplation of remote and future good, to raise in himself desires of them strong enough to counterbalance the uneasiness he feels in those bodily torments, and to keep his will steady in the choice of those actions which lead to future happiness. A neighbour country has been of late a tragical theatre, from which we might fetch instances, if there needed any, and the world did not in all countries and ages furnish examples enough to confirm that received observation,“ necessitas cogit ad turpia ;" and therefore there is great reason for us to pray, “ lead us not into temptation.
9. Other uneasinesses' arise from our dedesires, aris- sires of absent good'; which desires always ing from
bear proportion to, and depend on the judg. wrong judg. ment we make, and the relish we have of
any absent-good : in both which we are apt to be variously misled, and that by our own fault. Our judg
g. 58. In the first place, I shall consider ment of pre
the wrong judgments men make of future sent good or good and evil, whereby their desires are evil always nisled. For, as to present happiness and right.
misery, when that alone comes into consideration, and the consequences are quite removed, a man never chooses amiss; he knows what best pleases him, and that he actually prefers. Things in their present enjoyment are what they seem: the apparent and real good are, in this case, always the same. For the pain or pleasure being just so great, and no greater than it is felt, the present good or evil is really so much