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fuch difbelief or diftruft by the fophiftry of pretended philofophers, we act just as wifely as a mariner would do, who should fuffer himself to be perfuaded, that the pole-star is continually changing its place, but that the wind always blows from the fame quarter. Common fenfe, or instinct, which prompts men to truft to their own feelings, hath in all ages continued the fame : but the interests, purfuits, and abilities of philofophers, are susceptible of endless variety; and their theories vary accordingly.
. Let it not be thought, that thefe objects and faculties of internal fenfation are matters too evanefcent to be attended to, or that their evidence is too weak to produce a steady and well-grounded conviction. They are more neceffary to our happiness than even the powers and objects of external sense; yea, they are no lefs neceffary to our existence. What can be of greater confequence to man, than his moral fentiments, his reafon, his memory, his imagination? What more interesting, than to know, whether his notions of duty and of truth be the dictates of his nature, that is, the voice of God, or the po
fitive inftitutions of men? What is it to which a wife man will pay more attention, than to his reafon and confcience, thofe divine monitors by which he is to judge even of religion itself, and which he is not at liberty to disobey, though an angel from heaven fhould command him? The generality of mankind, however ignorant of the received diftinctions and explications of their internal powers, do yet by their conduct declare, that they fecł their authority, and acknowledge their authenticity. Every inftance of their be ing governed by a principle of moral obligation, is a proof of this. They believe an action to be lawful in the fight of God, when they are confcious of a fentiment of lawfulness attending the performance of it: they believe a certain mode of conduct to be incumbent on them in certain circumftances, because a fentiment of duty arifes in their mind, when they contemplate that conduct in relation to thofe circumftances.- "I ought to be grateful for a "favour received. Why? Why? Because my "confcience tells me fo. How do you. "know that you ought to do that of "which your confcience enjoins the per
"formance? I can give no further rea “fon for it; but I feel that fuch is my " duty.” Here the investigation muft ftop; or, if carried a little further, it muft return to this point:-"I know that "I ought to do what my confcience enjoins, becaufe God is the author of my conftitution; and I obey His will when "I act according to the principles of my conftitution. Why do you obey the "will of God? Because it is my duty. How know you that? Becaufe my "confcience tells me fo," &c. ·
If a man were fceptical in this matter, it would not be in the power of argument to cure him. Such a man could not be faid to have any moral principle diftinct from the hope of reward, the fear of punifhment, or the influence of cuftom. But that there is in human nature a moral principle diftinct from thofe motives, has been felt and acknowledged by men of all ages and nations; and indeed was never denied or doubted, except by a few metaphysicians, who, through want either of sense or of honesty, found themselves difpofed to deny the existence, or question the authenticity, of our moral feelings.
In the celebrated difpute concerning li berty and neceffity, the advocates for the latter have either maintained, that we have no sense of moral liberty; or, granting that we have fuch a fenfe, have endeavoured to prove it fallacious *. Now, if we be conscious, that we have a fenfe of moral liberty, it is certainly as abfurd to argue against the existence of that fenfe, as against the reality of any other matter of fact. And if the real existence of this fense be acknowledged, it cannot be proved to be fallacious by any arguments, which may not alfo be applied to prove every power of our nature fallacious, and, confequently, to fhow, that man ought not to believe any thing at all. But more of this afterwards.
We have no other direct evidence than this of conscioufnefs, or internal fenfation, for the existence and identity of our own foul. I exift; I am the fame being today
*See Effays on Morality and Natural Religion, P. 151. &c.
+ I fay, direct evidence. But there are not wanting.other irrefragable, though indirect, evidences of the exist, ence of the human foul. Such is that which refults from
day I was yesterday, and twenty years athis principle, or being, within me,
a comparison of the known qualities of matter with the phenomena of animal motion and thought. The further we carry our inquiries into matter, the more we are convinced of its incapacity to begin motion. And as to thought, and its feveral modes, if we think that they might be produced by any poffible configuration and ar rangement of the minute particles of matter, we form a fuppofition as arbitrary, as little warranted by experience or evidence of any kind, and as contrary to the rules that determine us in all our rational conjectures, as if we were to fuppofe, that diamonds might be produced from the fmoke of a candle, or that men might grow like mushrooms out of the earth. There must then, in all animals, and especially in man, be a principle, not only diftinct and different from body, but in fome refpects of a quite contrary nature. To afk, whether the Deity, without uniting body with spirit, could create thinking matter, is juft fuch a question, as, whether he could create a being effentially active and effentially inactive, capable of beginning motion, and incapable of beginning motion, at the fame time queftions which, if we allow experience to be a rational ground of knowledge, we need not fcruple to anfwer in the negative. For thefe queftions, according to the beft lights that our rational faculties can afford, feem to us to refer to the production of an effect as truly impoffible, as the creation of round fquarenefs, hot cold, black whiteness, or true falsehood.
Yet I am inclined to think, it is not by this argument that the generality of mankind are led to acknowledge the existence of their own minds. An evidence more direct, much more obvious, and not lefs convincing, every rian difcovers in the inftinctive fuggeftions of nature. K 2